In a unanimous vote at its meeting Wednesday, June 15th, the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission approved Westchester Lutheran School’s proposed classroom modernization project as well as the relocation of middle school students to the Sepulveda Boulevard site.

“We are very pleased with the commission’s decision, and we are excited about the prospects for the future of our school,” said school administrator Sandra Masted, who has shepherded the project since 2002.

“We are thankful for all of the support we have received from the community, and we look forward to working with everyone as we begin construction.”

The vote of the commission clears the way for the project, which will include the following:

– 16 new modern classrooms replacing 16 cramped and outdated classrooms;

– new computer lab;

– library/music room expansion;

– new subterranean multipurpose gymnasium with 266 roll-out bleacher seats;

– new outdoor seating area; and

– new administration building.

The school will also include some critically important efforts to address traffic concerns in the area.

Working with the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the school will implement a new entrance on Sepulveda Boulevard, including a deceleration lane.

This entrance, in addition to an existing entrance on 77th Street, will allow for the dispersal of traffic during peak periods and will ease the impacts on the 77th Street-Sepulveda Boulevard intersection.

Westchester Lutheran will also continue to stagger its start and dismissal times to reduce traffic and will enhance an existing carpooling program.

As a condition of project approval, the carpooling program will be required to achieve a 2.5 student-per-vehicle ratio.

To reduce traffic impacts, the school has also agreed, as a condition of approval, not to use the existing sanctuary and the proposed gymnasium for assemblies at the same time.

“We are serious about doing all we can to reduce our impacts on our neighbors,” said Masted.

“We have changed our project significantly to address community concerns, and we are glad that our efforts have resulted in a better project and a project that has achieved a great deal of community support.”

After meeting with the community, the school made the following changes, all of which were included in the project approved by the commission:

– reduced square footage by 7,700 square feet (22,890 square feet of net addition compared to previously proposed 31,474 square feet);

– reduced building heights from three stories to two stories;

– shifted buildings five to 13 feet toward Sepulveda Boulevard and away from the adjacent residential neighborhood;

– added a new landscaping strip for additional trees and greenery between the school and its neighbors; and

n added a new 18-space parking lot to ease parking issues.

The project is expected to break ground next summer and is slated for completion by 2009.

LAXCEPTIONAL KIDS — Los Angeles World Airports — the City of Los Angeles agency that operates the city’s four airports — recently recognized a long list of outstanding Westchester-area students through its new program, The LAXceptional Student Program, which recognizes students from kindergarten through 12th grades for exemplary efforts and/or achievements in any pursuit.

To qualify for the honor, a student had to have an accomplishment such as reading the most books in a school-wide reading program, winning a PTA art contest, or achieving a distinction in a regional, state or national competition.

In addition, a student who has earned distinction in music, art, drama, volunteer work, community involvement, athletics or a civic activity was also eligible.

ROTARY SCHOLARS — The Rotary Club of Westchester has presented a number of scholarships to students at St. Bernard and Westchester high schools.

The Rotary Scholarship winners were:

St. Bernard High School students:

Kriston Palomo Rotary Scholarship, $500 to Stephanie Loville;

Most Improved Student Scholarship, $500 to Michael Coleman;

Jim Bunch Rotary Scholarship, $500 to Michael Kelly;

Four-Way Test Essay Scholarship, $1,500 to Michael Coleman;

Westchester High students:

Madera Leadership Scholarship, $500 to Ana Gomez;

Judy Young First Generation Scholarship, $750 to Betelehem Asnake;

Jim Bunch Rotary Scholarship, $500 to Hazel Araux; and

Four-Way Test Essay Scholarship, $1,500 to Martha Castillo.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding students.

PACIFIC AREA BOOSTER SCHOLARSHIPS — The Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Area Boosters awarded a $1,000 Community Service Scholarship to Sherniece Spiller of Westchester High School and $1,000 to Marina Diaz of St. Bernard High School.

ESCUELA TO CLOSE — Escuela Elementary Center officials say that, after more than 31 years in the community, the school “has lost its lease on short notice” and will soon close its doors.

School officials are looking for another site for the school.

The school will be holding a liquidation sale Friday and Saturday, June 24th and 25th, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school’s present site, 8820 Sepulveda Eastway in Westchester.

Items available for purchase include computers and software, furniture, TVs and VCRs, appliances, books, toys, art supplies, large outdoor potted palm trees and athletic equipment.

Akani Fletcher, school headmaster, said the school hopes to reopen again in a new location.

“We lost our lease on very short notice,” Fletcher said. “Finding a new site has been challenging, to say the least.

“It doesn’t look like anything will happen in time for the fall, unless it’s something miraculous, but we’re hoping for the best.”

Information about the school or the liquidation sale, (310) 645-4775.