It’s no secret that Downtown LA’s full-time resident population has been growing – reaching almost 50,000 today. When downtown first started attracting residents over a decade ago, most were young singles and couples attracted to the unique urban landscape that only Downtown LA could offer in the region. The skyscrapers and subways, the dynamic commercial street grid, the rich history and architecture. However, many of those singles and couples who were the pioneers of downtown — who are now grownup themselves — have become parents with children. According to the DCBID 2011 demographic survey, there are approximately 2,700 children under the age of 5 who live downtown. And that’s the conundrum that many parents face today living in Downtown LA: How do we continue to live and be a part of the community we love (and helped build) but also have access to high quality education for our children?
If there’s anyone else besides a parent who understands how important it is to live somewhere with a stellar school district, it’s the real estate agent. I show properties to countless parents who are willing to pay whatever they can afford to live in a school district with high API (Academic Performance Index) scores.
Not surprisingly, parents will bend over backwards and do anything they can to give their children a head start in life. And although some parents have moved away from Downtown LA for the suburbs (i.e., South Pasadena, La Cañada, etc.), there is an extraordinary group of parents who have chosen to continue living downtown and are taking matters into their own hands. They are galvanizing the downtown community in support of creating a new public elementary school called Metro Charter that will be in a yet-to-be-determined South Park location.
According to Metro Charter’s website: “Metro Charter will be a public charter school managed by parents, business leaders and educators. It is currently expected that Metro Charter will open to serve approximately 120 students grades K-2, and grow to serve approximately 520 students grades K-5 by the Fall of 2016.”
Two of the parents behind Metro Charter helping to make the elementary school a reality are Chinmaya Misra and Apurva Pande. Both live and work downtown as architects. With a 4-year old daughter soon-to-be a kindergartner, the urgency to be able to send their child to a high quality public school has become paramount.
“Like all of the other parents involved with Metro Charter, this is a very personal project for us; especially since our daughter, Anvaya, is a hopeful member of the school’s inaugural kindergarten class,” Misra tells me. “We hope and expect that, upon approval of our charter petition, the school will open in the Fall of 2013.”
As committed downtowners, Misra continues by saying, “As proud residents of Downtown LA, we want Metro to be a world-class option for any family, especially those who live or work in Downtown LA.”
We all want Downtown LA to become a stable environment that continues to attract investment, which allows for our urban center to continue growing and maturing. We want those who become parents to have the option to send their children to high quality public schools in Downtown LA so that they can continue to be invested in the community, contributing their skills and talents. Parents setting roots downtown for the long term, instead of immediately darting for the suburbs, will help make Downtown LA into the strong urban center we have all been working toward.
This Saturday, September 8, 2012, there will be a fundraiser supporting Metro Charter held at 888 S Figueroa in the Financial District. I highly encourage anyone who supports Downtown LA to donate to the cause and come out to the event.