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New School Proposed for Del Rey Neighborhood

Del Rey Neighborhood Council board members voice concerns over traffic.

Citing concerns over traffic, the Del Rey Neighborhood Council on Thursday voted 5-4 not to move forward with a project for a new middle school planned at the corner of McConnell Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard.

The project will now return to the Del Rey Planning and Land Use Committee to further analyze the impact of dozens of cars picking up and dropping off students at the new school, called Animo Westside Middle School. 

Green Dot, an L.A.-based non profit that operates public charter schools, hopes to run the new school at the site of the two-story 21,000-square-foot Mercury Air office building located at 5456 McConnell Ave. Green Dot operates 18 schools in high-need areas throughout L.A. and students would be relocated to Animo from an existing Green Dot middle school located at 7615 Cowan Ave. 

“The school has entered into a 15-year lease on the property,” said David Moss, the building and planning consultant for Green Dot. “They have been looking for another location for quite some time.” 

Del Rey Board member Jonathon Neumann said that with an additional 2,000 condos planned for Playa Vista, traffic in the area could increase significantly. He pointed out some inconsistencies between the traffic plan that the developers submitted to the city and verbal statements they made at the Thursday meeting.

Planners will present the Green Dot project to the Del Rey Planning Committee in early January, and Moss hopes to go to the L.A. City Planning Commission for a conditional use permit sometime in mid-February.

The Mercury Air office building would undergo significant renovations, including a new facade and landscaping. A gated two-lane driveway from McConnell Avenue would lead into the school property and parents would use the existing parking lot for pick-ups and drop-offs.

The area would be fenced off for security and the building would be equipped with an alarm system and cameras. Although exact start times have not been decided because Green Dot officials are coordinating with nearby Westside Neighborhood School to mitigate traffic, Green Dot expects to be open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. No before or after school programs would be offered. 

In addition to transferring existing kids from the Green Dot school on Cowan Avenue, the school also plans to recruit students from nearby areas like Venice, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista and Palms.

The first year, Animo expects about 300 children, and eventually plans to teach about 500 students. Any eligible public school student can apply, and if Animo receives more applicants than it has seats for, students will be chosen based on a lottery system. About 21 teachers and seven staff members would work at Animo.

The building could be operational as early as December 2013, according to Moss.

Correction: The article previously stated that the Del Rey Neighborhood Council Board voted against approving the project. The board voted to send the item back for discussion to the the Del Rey Land Use and Planning Committee.

Eric DeSobe December 14, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The lead of this article is not exactly true. There was never a motion for support or opposition made during the meeting. The Board heard and then supported a motion to return item to Land Use Committee, but there was never a vote for or against the project. In fact several Board voiced support for the work Green Dot Schools does for kids and the efforts they have done so far to be good neighbors. Eric DeSobe Del Rey NC President
HeyDiggy December 14, 2012 at 05:31 PM
thanks Eric. I found it hard to believe that traffic would take priority over education.
David Carini (Editor) December 14, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Sorry for the confusion. But by voting to send it back to the planning commission, the board decided not to approve the project last night, which it could have.

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