A ski jump? A toboggan run? A water slide? What’s got everyone talking?

(Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times) From LA Times by Steve Lopez May 4, 2008:>>read more.
The design of L.A. Unified’s new arts high school is convoluted and costly.     “What is it?” Kelly Charles asked as he walked to his job as a custodian in downtown Los Angeles and gazed up at a rather odd construction project. “A roller coaster?”     As I wandered the neighborhood, other guesses were: A ski jump.     A toboggan run.     A water slide.      What’s got everyone talking is the odd-looking tower that rises 140 feet above the 101 Freeway, directly across from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The futuristic metallic edifice, with a wraparound spiral Dr. Seuss would love, is not part of a theme park. It is the signature adornment on a new arts-oriented public high school that will cost roughly $230 million.     That’s far more than the going rate for a more conventional school, but district officials argue that they already owned the site of the former L.A. Unified headquarters. Sure, but aren’t these tough times for public schools? Aren’t school districts facing huge cuts? Aren’t many aging schools in disrepair?     You have to wonder how this will sit with parents who are being asked to contribute several hundred dollars per student to cover programs and staff members that tax dollars used to fund.     David Tokofsky, a former school board member, said he isn’t opposed to a bit of a flair on an arts-oriented campus. But given all the budget problems — not to mention the flailing administration of L.A. Supt. and Navy Adm. David L. Brewer — the project “just looks like an absurdity,” in Tokofsky’s words.     Personally, I thought the big log flume was the latest improvement on the disastrous employee payroll system in L.A. Unified. Weekly pay could be sent down the chutes to teachers below, and whatever cash doesn’t blow over Chinatown or fly into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony’s belfry could be pocketed by teachers.     Come to think of it, stringing a tightrope from the school tower to the cathedral wouldn’t be a bad idea. Priests and administrators accused of wrongdoing or coverups could creep across the treacherous divide. Those who land safely in the cathedral’s reflecting pool shall be considered saved.

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