Rise Kohyang Middle School, a popular charter school in Los Angeles Koreatown, is facing backlash from local residents over plans for rezoning and constructing a new school in Pico-Union.
Residents argue that the site should be used to build affordable housing instead.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Institute (ACCE) and some residents of the Pico-Union neighborhood held a press conference on May 4 at 1700 W. Olympic Blvd. to argue that the rezoning development for the construction of the new Rise Kohyang Middle School should be reviewed by the L.A. City Council, not the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD).
The press conference was held at the proposed site of the new Rise Kohyang Middle School (approximately one acre), where the LAUSD is scheduled to visit on May 9 to review the rezoning of the proposed land.
“The rezoning proposal should be reviewed by the L.A. City Council, where public input can be taken into account,” said ACCE Communication Lead Sylvia Moore, “and the site should be used to build affordable housing rather than a school, under the Affordable Housing Incentive Program.”
Currently, Rise Kohyang Middle School is located at 3020 Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown. The school is having to relocate to a new site due to redevelopment of their original building.
On the other hand, the local residents around the new construction site say the housing crisis needs to be addressed first.
“The school construction project doesn’t take into account the damage it’s doing to the community in terms of worsening the issue of affordable housing shortage and rent increase,” said Mark Krause, a participant of the press conference. “The high cost of living is driving people out of the neighborhood and we’re even seeing a decline in public school enrollment.”
On the other hand, Rise Kohyang Middle School, who’s working with LAUSD on the new project, says it’s “helping to revitalize the community.”
“The presence of a great educational institution actually helps the community grow,” said Meggie Kwon, the school’s coordinator. “Because it’s a charter school that provides quality education to students, it will help increase the level of education in communities including Downtown L.A. as well as Koreatown.”
Rise Kohyang Middle School has been working on this project since 2016. At that time, more than 100 schools applied for the new construction project, and Rise Kohyang was the one selected and approved for funding by the state government.
The rezoning proposal for Rise Kohyang Middle School is expected to be approved. The architectural blueprint has already been created for construction.
According to the LAUSD Preliminary Environmental Assessment Equivalent, a site assessment was conducted in 2021 to make sure that the rezone construction would not adversely affect the surrounding environment. In addition, the 30-day public review and community feedback process has already been completed as well.
“Unlike public schools, charter schools have to go through a rigorous screening process for renewal,” said Kwon. “Currently, there aren’t any span schools in Downtown L.A. or Koreatown, so it would be beneficial to the community if the construction project of Rise Kohyang Charter School is approved, since our school covers multiple grade levels starting from transitional kindergarten.
The Rise Kohyang Middle School construction project plans to build a 69,200 square ft. four-story building. It will be a campus for 450 students (grades 6-8), 40 teachers, 21 classrooms, and more.
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