Two New Green Charter Schools Open in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, California, October 17, 2008 (ENS) - The 27th Street Learning Complex in South Los Angeles was completed last month as the first of five green public charter schools planned for the Los Angeles area.

Two side-by-side charter public high schools for Green Dot Public Schools make up the complex. Classes for 1,050 students are now underway in a rehabilitated a 55,000 square foot garment factory building.

Pacific Charter School Development is the nonprofit developer, and the project is expected to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, together with Clearinghouse CDFI, provided $4.4 million in acquisition financing for this project. LISC has joined forces with Global Green USA to create the green charter schools to serve low-income children in the Los Angeles area.

A green school, also called a high performance school, is a community facility that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner.

Global Green USA is working to stem global climate change by creating green buildings, schools and cities. Green schools designed with attention to site planning, ventilation, material selection, acoustics and adequate daylighting have been shown to increase attendance and heighten student performance by as much as 25 percent.

Operating costs for energy and water can be reduced by up to 40 percent, allowing more money to be used for teacher salaries, textbooks and computers, and the building itself becomes a teaching tool for science, math, and environmental studies.

The LISC + Global Green partnership is intended to provide funding and technical assistance to these new schools, and also help develop best practices that can be implemented in other green school development efforts across the country.

Two of the five green charter schools now are complete and functioning.

The second project involved the rehabilitation of a 4,200 square foot office building by Tzicatl Community Development Corporation to create 100 new seats for Academia Semillas del Pueblo, or Seeds of the People Academy.

This K-8 public charter school is located in the El Sereno community of East Los Angeles.

LISC provided $1.6 million to Tzicatl CDC for the acquisition and rehabilitation of the site, and for the acquisition of another site the school had previously improved and was renting nearby.

In the coming months, other school locations will be considered for the three remaining green charter schools planned as part of the pilot project.

LISC + Global Green provides each pilot school development project with a $75,000 green grant and architectural assistance to maximize the use of the grant funds. Those dollars are in addition to the LISC financing that is helping support the broader physical development effort at each site.

"Green schools are yet another way LISC is transforming distressed low-income communities into sustainable communities - good places to live, work, do business and raise families," said Michael Rubinger, LISC president and chief executive.

"Is it possible that green outcomes could become a standard for new schools?" Rubinger mused. "Maybe. That's one of the questions we will be asking ourselves as this pilot moves forward."

"Our goal is to help create healthier communities, and to do that we also need to think about healthier school environments. We're very excited about where this Global Green partnership may lead," he said.

Founded in 1993 by activist and philanthropist Diane Meyer Simon, Global Green is the American branch of Green Cross International, which was created by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev "to foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future by reconnecting humanity with the environment."

"Schools are critical community assets, and our partnership with Global Green USA will help these facilities deliver better health, better academic performance and better school operations for their students and the broader community," said Rubinger.

LISC also has provided funds to the Watts Learning Center so it could add a solar hot water system to its new school building, which is replacing portable and temporary classrooms.

LISC participated in the lending consortium that provided a portion of the acquisition funds for Watts Learning Center and is also an investor in the Los Angeles Charter Schools New Markets Fund that is providing permanent financing for this project, which was underway before work on the five school pilot project with Global Green began.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help community organizations revitalize underserved neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised nearly $9 billion to build or rehabilitate more than 230,000 affordable homes and develop 32 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide.

{Photo: A mural decorates the Academia Semillas del Pueblo in East Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy ASdP)}

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