LAUSD superintendent appoints principal for new conservatory arts high school

The future of L.A. Unified's most expensive new high school appeared in doubt last month. The school district had failed to hire a principal, and a key backer said he'd lost confidence in the district's plans. Today the superintendent introduced the school's new principal and said the campus will open in the fall. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The 10-acre campus with the modernist architecture across from the L.A.'s Catholic cathedral is to be L.A. Unified's conservatory-level arts high school. The principal will be Suzanne Blake, a career L.A. Unified teacher and administrator with experience running a brand-new campus. She told reporters that arts and education are her life and career.

Suzanne Blake: I went to school to study dance and to be a dancer but I also fell in love with health education – I've always been a big supporter. I'm married to a professional jazz musician, my children are now musicians. And we have supported the arts in Los Angeles for the last 25 years.

Guzman-Lopez: Last month, another L.A. arts supporter, philanthropist Eli Broad, pulled his endorsement for the school – and a $5 million pledge. He criticized the district's pace in hiring the school's staff and urged a charter school operator to take over. Looking at the school's signature tower, designed by a Broad-endorsed design firm, Cortines said he hoped the philanthropist would renew his economic support.

Ramon Cortines: We have sent him a bill. It's been some months now. I'm certainly not going to send him one tomorrow. I'd rather have Mr. Broad come after the beginning of school and see what he helped put together.

Guzman-Lopez: Broad was not available for comment. The chair of Discovering the Arts, the non-profit that's sided with Broad's concerns, said parents were promised the school would be led by a world-class arts educator and administrators, not by a career administrator from the district.

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