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Coming Fall 2013: Downtown LA Parents Behind New Metro Charter School

A new public elementary school called Metro Charter is slated to open next fall 2013 in response to a growing number of parents with children who live downtown and don’t want to move to the suburbs

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.

Downtown residents and parents, Apurva Pande and Chinmaya Misra plan to send their daughter, Anvaya, to the future Metro Charter school (Photo: Metro Charter)

5 Comments

  1. As a Downtown parent of an infant, I think this is great. However, I’m wondering why the parents don’t push for a new LAUSD school instead of a charter. It would be great to have a dual language school, which is something the District could support.

  2. tonyhoover says

    convert the federal office building into a school. They need to find a use for it and most people think it cannot be converted into offices in the near term.

  3. @ bentrogena, Hal Bastian and others have had conversations with LAUSD for years about opening a neighborhood school as opposed to a charter, with no results. A charter is the fastest and best hope for bringing a new school into downtown.

    I think another thing that has to be emphasized is that even if you don’t send your kid to the charter school once it opens, there are other great school options available in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown. For example, Solano Avenue Elementary, just north of Chinatown, has an API score of 922, which is exceptionally high. And my son just started kindergarten at Clifford Street Elementary, which is located right off Glendale Blvd., a ten minute drive from downtown. Clifford has an API score of 818, which is also strong. And thanks to LAUSD open enrollment, you can apply to any school in the district that has openings available.

    I just posted a five-part series on school options for downtown parents (including neighborhood schools, magnets and charters) on my site: http://www.dtlafamilies.com/.

    Also, if anyone has kids and wants to connect with other families, check out the Downtown LA Parents Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DowntownL.A.Parents/.

  4. Nancy B says

    This is exciting news. We are a real neighborhood in Downtown. We shouldn’t have to drive out of our neighborhood to give our children the education they deserve. Kudos to the families and neighbors who understand the need to build a school in this community. What an excellent contribution to the future of Downtown….not just hip bars and restaurants.

  5. Dream Believer says

    So the brand new 9th street school downtown is opening this fall and I hear it is fantastic! It has a theater, cafeteria, mental health clinic and dance studios with plans to focus on math and science. Word is that the new principal is raring to go, extremely capable and has high ambitions for all his students. If enrollment is high this fall perhaps that would bode well for stability and hopefully a strong parent/community support system…

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