"As we look at a variety of our own facilities, it appears to be the
best option out there," said Mike Fine, assistant superintendent of
business services. "Rea happens to have the most space and we have a
desire to clean up that corner."
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is currently taking bids for
the demolition of the buildings that housed the old wood shop and
gymnasium back when Rea was a middle school.
Those buildings currently are home to the Save Our Youth program, the
Boys & Girls Club and the Costa Mesa Playhouse. Since the two youth
organizations serve the students of the Newport-Mesa district, officials
are concerned with their displacement and are planning to allow them to
stay once the new center is built.
"I'm very optimistic," said Oscar Santoyo, executive director of Save
Our Youth. "I look at it as something positive. It will start a whole
chapter for us. We'll be able to be just as successful if not more so."
While the new two-story portable buildings are little more than an
architect's rendering, school board members who have been pleading with
disgruntled adult education teachers to have patience are ecstatic at the
notion of solving the problem.
"We're just thrilled -- I am personally thrilled," said trustee Martha
Fluor. "It's in a location that can accommodate the parents most in need
of the program and it's so central that most can walk."
The reality of the new center is still a long way off, Fine said.
Demolition is not likely to begin until winter and the district has yet
to bring the project before the state for approval.
"The big unknowns are scheduling demolition work and state approval,"
Fine said. "And that's assuming everything else works out."
But Fine's warning not to get too excited is falling on deaf ears in a
community that has long awaited the new center.
"It seems like a win-win situation for everybody," said Wendy Leece,
the biggest supporter of the cause on the school board. "It's an easy,
centralized location. It's a creative, low-cost solution to a problem,
and in the long run it's just going to help kids do better."