LAUSD board members made it official last week: Come September, students aging out of Playa Vista Elementary School will be able to continue their studies at a brand new middle school program on the Manchester Avenue campus of Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets (formerly Westchester High School).

The new school is intended to continue Playa Vista Elementary’s popular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum, closing the gap in a local educational pipeline.

“The new pathway comes to complement the other science-oriented programs serving the Westchester and Del Rey communities: Orville Wright Middle School and Marina Del Rey Middle School,” LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer wrote in a letter to parents. “We fully intend that all middle school pathways will lead to WESM.”

Students currently enrolled in Playa Vista Elementary School get priority admission to the new middle school, with sixth- and seventh-grade cohorts of 100 to 150 students each launching in 2017 and eighth-grade classrooms coming online in 2018. Other students will be admitted by lottery according to various enrollment priority groups.

Responding to complaints by Westchester and Playa del Rey parents that the program could fill up before their kids have a chance to enroll, LAUSD is including residents of Westchester, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and View Park – Windsor Hills in the Group 2 enrollment tier.

Students who do not live in the area but currently attend Cowan, Kentwood, Loyola Village, Open Charter Magnet, Paseo del Rey Magnet, Playa del Rey or Westport Heights elementary schools are in Group 3. LAUSD will take enrollment applications between Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, with letters of acceptance going
out March 6.