Winter 2006 Newsletter

Project Update

NSBN serves as a catalyst and third-party intermediary to front-fund, convene, and manage collaborative, stakeholder master planning of smaller, joint-use, and community-centered schools in Los Angeles County and throughout California. With funding from First 5 LA and others, NSBN seeks to showcase for state and local decision-makers the civic and educational value of leveraging over $10 billion of state and local facility bond proceeds with park, library, UPK, philanthropic and housing funds to build not only better schools but healthier neighborhoods. Here are some NSBN project highlights:

Lennox Elementary School District

The Department of the State Architect approved this winter the building plans for the Lennox site which will result in three new pre-K classrooms with morning and afternoon sessions offered serving 120-128 new students. On Jan. 18th, Lennox School District received the Notice to Proceed for the School Readiness building. All the buildings are expected to be erected in April with completion by June. Move-in to the buildings will occur in July/August, with all services to commence in August for the 2006/2007 school year. The grand opening for the Keck-funded facilities is scheduled for August.

Los Angeles Unified - Westlake

The Westlake community, just west of downtown L.A., is celebrating the completion of a successful collaborative master planning effort spearheaded by NSBN. Instead of just settling for a new Primary Center for grades K-2, the community will have additional open space, affordable housing, a Boys & Girls Club and an early education center. Parents and community stakeholders participated in the more than six-month process which culminated in a plan whose major components were adopted by

LA Unified School District.

Construction will begin soon on this model project. The Community of Friends Affordable Housing development has broken ground.

Santa Monica Blvd Community Charter School

The Santa Monica Boulevard School, now a charter school within the LAUSD, has been an integral part of its Hollywood neighborhood since 1910, evolving with the changing populations. The school is beginning to plan and raise funds for a campus building project, and NSBN is working with administrators and community stakeholders to bring new services and facilities for the community into the project. NSBN was successful in finalizing a design plan for SMBCCS that allows a new partnership with the Los Angeles Free Clinic to offer students and their families access to free healthcare on-site at SMBCCS with referrals to an expanding LAFC facility located within walking distance of the campus. Eventually, a referral and appointment desk, as well as an insurance assistance program, will replace the on-site medical care as the clients become more acquainted and comfortable with the clinic.
Simultaneously, NSBN received a grant from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation that will fund a healthcare assessment program and study of the impact of healthy school design on academic achievement.

Boyle Heights- East LA High School

In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, the community¹s need for a new high school and an MTA station appeared to endanger an important community pre-k program, until the parties, with the support of then Councilman (and now Mayor) Villaraigosa¹s office and the assistance of NSBN, worked out a win-win rather than an either/or solution. NSBN managed a community & stakeholder based, master plan process which resulted in a full service community center, including a relocated Plaza Community¹s early education program, on a site just east of the new High School. The signing of a MOU with NSBN and the continuing support of then LAUSD Board of Education President (and now Councilman) Jose Huizar; Rev. Jim Conn, an urban strategist with United Methodist Ministries; and Eduardo Garcia of Plaza Community Center, has allowed work to continue on realizing the Barrio Planners/ NSBN/ First 5 LA funded neighborhood centered master plan and design.

NSBN will be signing a Letter of Intent this month with both the International Institute of Los Angeles, another childcare operator located within Boyle Heights, and the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative, a spin-off educational action group within the Roosevelt HS and new East LA HS feeder areas, to co-develop a new multipurpose, family friendly facility with preschool classrooms operated by both Plaza Community center and International Institute, as well as many other community-based programs.
NSBN continues to work with the Mayor¹s Office, LA City Council District 14, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), the LA City Community Development and Engineering departments, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) District 7 to fund this ambitious project.


NSBN, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Office of Education
(LACOE) and the International Institute of Los Angeles are developing a master plan for an existing school site in Hawthorne. Once a ³starter² school District (a small, three-classroom facility with only an office, bathroom facilities and limited recreational space) within the Lawndale Elementary School, the site was transferred to LACOE and currently operates as an alternative day school for junior and senior high school students reassigned from other schools within the South Bay region of LA County.
LACOE plans on expanding its current classrooms with a small addition while developing appropriate playing fields for its current student population.

Separately, LACOE plans on having one of its Head Start contractors operate a facility in one small portion of the Hawthorne facility and NSBN is working with the International Institute to operate a temporary childcare facility in another portion of the property with eventual relocation into a new subsidized housing development on the property that may include Century Housing. A Letter of Intent with International Institute for the preschool operation is pending while Century Housing is reviewing the potential for a long-term lease with LACOE before signing a similar document regarding the housing.


NSBN, together with Century Housing and the Drew Child Development Corporation (DCDC), is developing short and long term facility plans for a new, 200 seat preschool (including space for DCDC offices that must be relocated from DCDC¹s current location at the Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science Campus). This much needed community project, which was stalled for over 10 years due to land acquisition & environmental regulations, was facilitated by the recent transfer, with the help of LA County 2nd District Supervisor Burke¹s office, of adjoining property on Imperial Hwy near Central Ave. along the Century Freeway. In January, both Century Housing and DCDC signed Letters of Intent with NSBN for the planning of this new pre-school seat project. Another potential joint partner in the project is Drew¹s Head Start Project.


John Hurtado, M. Ed., joined NSBN as executive director in mid-September 2005. Previously, he had been Senior Director of Strategic Relationship and Resource Development as well as National Parent School Partnership Director at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Mr. Hurtado¹s expertise is in the development of educational programs and civic engagement, the latter a crucial role of NSBN in the design and implementation of projects. Previously, he had been with institutions that include Harvard University, UMass, the California School of Professional Psychology, Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science, and the Academic Center for Excellence in the Health Sciences (Western University of Health Sciences/Loma Linda School of Medicine).

With NSBN, Mr. Hurtado will oversee daily operations, the completion of existing joint-use school/community development projects in Hollywood, Lennox, MacArthur Park, and East Los Angeles with the appropriate school districts, as well as pre-school siting projects within the ³Hot Zones² in Los Angeles County identified by the First 5 Commission, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) and MALDEF. These ³hot zones² are where insufficient preschool and early childhood facilities exist to meet the demand for care of 4 year-olds living in those communities. John also will assist in the development of new opportunities in other areas of Los Angeles County, Southern California, the state, and through BEST, nationwide.

Catherine Kersh, JD, joined NSBN in October on a part-time basis and on full-time basis this winter as a Project Manager. She brings five years experience in real estate/construction litigation at Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, Selman & Breitman LLP, and Hanrick & Evans LLP. She is focusing on new preschool site development for the First 5 LA/LA Universal Preschool (LAUP) projects, as well as assisting with completion of the existing projects in Boyle Heights, Paramount, and East Hollywood (the Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School).

In January, former NSBN Executive Director Lucy Okumu was named Special Assistant to LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer. Okumu most recently served as a legislative advocate for the district.

Tahirah Farris, formerly a NSBN project manager, left NSBN at the end of October to become a policy analyst for the Advancement Project.