Amanda Keller-Konya  
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Belmont Learning Center (Central High #11, or Vista Hermosa),
Los Angeles, California

|  School's Out, Forever?  |

In his 1972 heavy metal hit “School’s Out,” Alice Cooper sang "’s out for summer, school’s out forever, school’s been blown to pieces.”  In the 21st century, Cooper’s lyrics move away from a rocker’s fantasy and become reality as illustrated by Belmont Learning Center.  The Belmont Learning Center, recently renamed as Central High #11 or Vista Hermosa, is the nation’s most expensive public school project.  Costs to date are estimated between $174 – $238 million, and an additional $110 million was recently approved for possible site completion. The campus continues to remain closed and construction is incomplete because of the potential hazards associated with the site (carcinogen benzene and methane gas).  The school location was previously the Los Angeles Oil Well.

During construction of the much-needed downtown school, it was discovered that laying concrete over the contaminated soil might potentially block the methane gas and cause it to explode.  In addition, construction began without the realization that the campus was being built on a fault capable of generating a 6.7 earthquake.  The ongoing debate about what to do with the unfinished school, which began in 1990, continues until this day.

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