Turtle Creek at Odds over Future of Aging School

Article excerpt

The fight over East Junior High School in the Woodland Hills School District stands out from other consolidation battles because the struggle isn't so much over where children will go to school but what will happen to the school building in Turtle Creek.

The Committee to Save Turtle Creek High School -- the name the building once carried -- has fought efforts to demolish and replace, or even significantly alter, the building.

Bob Mock, a member of the group, said the building defines Turtle Creek.

"This building is the most important building in our town," Mock said. "It's really the only park-like setting we have in our town. The whole town is built around it."

The group achieved a milestone Aug. 30 when the National Park Service put the building on its National Register of Historic Places. Historic status doesn't make the building demolition-proof, but limits how the district can use federal money to alter the school.

Linda Cole, a school board member, said East Junior High is deteriorating and the group's opposition has kept the district from making the building handicapped accessible or otherwise modernizing the school. Getting the building on the national register just made matters worse, she said. …