A group of about 80 students, parents and supporters of the Westchester Lutheran School —at 7831 Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester — applauded and cheered Tuesday, October 5th, after the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey voted to support the school’s revised “classroom modernization project.”

The project would enable the Westchester Lutheran School to modernize its 50-year-old classrooms, which school officials say are now too small to meet current standards and permit the continued operation of the middle school, which moved to the site in 2002.

The revised project calls for:

– an additional 23,000 square feet, downsized from the original plan calling for 31,500 square feet;

– 16 modern classrooms, replacing 16 outdated classrooms;

– a new computer lab;

– library and music room expansion;

– an underground multi-purpose gymnasium with 266-roll-out bleacher seats;

– a new outdoor seating area;

– a new administration building;

– downsizing the height of the elementary school from three stories to two (proposed height of the building reduced from 42 feet to 33 feet);

– eliminating balconies on the west side of the building (to protect privacy of neighbors) ;

– increased security for the school, including conversion to a gated campus to prevent night-time vandalism; and

– a new 18-space parking lot; added to the project in an effort to reduce traffic.

It is estimated that the school expansion would allow about 70 more students to attend the school, according to Westchester Lutheran School representatives.

Currently 530 students attend the school.

Westchester Lutheran School representatives say that the church sanctuary and the school gymnasium would not be used at the same time, to avoid traffic congestion.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has recommended traffic components that the school would implement, including:

– a West 77th Street driveway, right-turn-only entrance and exit;

– a Sepulveda Boulevard north driveway, right-turn-only entrance; and

– a Sepulveda Boulevard south driveway, right-turn-only exit.

Addressing noise concerns, the school plans to move after-school activities such as basketball and volleyball — which are currently held outside — into the underground gymnasium.

“I like the idea that they are adding rooms for computers,” said Neighborhood Council board member Denny Schneider.

“Every child must be computer literate to make it in this world.”

The Neighborhood Council voted 21-1, with two abstentions, in favor of the revised project.

“I think it’s a no-brainer,” said Neighborhood Council board member Mike Arias in support of the project. “A school shouldn’t be subjected to the same scrutiny as a business development.”

Arias said that the project would boost property value, not diminish it, as some Westchester residents have suggested.

The modernization of the school would be implemented in three phases of construction, according to Westchester Lutheran spokesmen.

The three phases of the modernization project would take about three years.

More than 80 people stood when a public speaker asked those in the audience supporting the project to stand.

A handful of Westchester residents in opposition to the project voiced their concerns — citing mainly potential traffic problems and the threat that the project would degrade local property values.

“Find another place for the middle school,” said one resident.

Richard Musella, a 41-year Westchester resident, said the expansion of the school would be a “major asset to the community.”

“Westchester Lutheran needs more than a nip/tuck. It needs a complete makeover,” one speaker said.

The original project was denied a permit by a Los Angeles city zoning administrator last year.

The revised project will go before a city zoning administrator Tuesday, October 21st, seeking a conditional use permit that would allow construction on the site to commence.

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