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Rea may be new home for adult ed

July 13, 2000

Danette Goulet

COSTA MESA - Although school officials warn that it is still in the

preliminary stages, it appears that Rea Elementary School could become

the new home to the district's adult education program.

And that's good news for adult education leaders who for two years

have been cramped into the old Harper school site along with the

ever-expanding special education department.

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"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."

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