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December 15, 2010

New Community Jewish High School buys Milken JCC campus

http://www.jewishjournal.com/community/article/new_community_jewish_high_school_buys_milken_jcc_campus_20101215

New Community Jewish High School (New Jew) has reached an agreement to purchase the four-acre Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Details of the deal, including purchase price, have not been released, and the purchase agreement is contingent upon the school renovating the campus and receiving the necessary permits from the city that will allow it to use the property as a high school.

The school hopes to move in by fall of 2012, though many details are still being worked out.

The JCC at Milken will continue to reside at the campus, leasing space from New Jew. The Federation’s Valley Alliance and various agencies currently on the campus have not yet determined if they will lease space at the facility, according to Mike Greenfeld, the president of the school’s board of trustees.

New Jew is returning to the home it first occupied when it was founded in 2002 with 40 students in a few classrooms. Today, the school has 400 students and for the past seven years has been renting space at Shomrei Torah synagogue in West Hills, and using sports and other facilities at the JCC at Milken.

Greenfeld believes the move will allow the school to attract an even wider audience.

“We’ll be able to enhance our art, music and science programs, as well as having on-site athletic facilities and an auditorium for dramatic productions and musical theater, all of which will enrich the academic experience for our students,” Greenfeld said.

The school will make significant renovations to the existing building footprint but does not plan to add new buildings right now. Greenfeld says a capital campaign will be rolled out within the next month.

Operation of the West Valley campus had been a source of tension for several years between Federation and the JCC. The West Valley JCC purchased the site in 1976, and it was later deeded to Federation, which in 1987 put $15 million into the new campus, and then more to restore it after it was badly damaged in the 1994 earthquake.

But in 2007, the pool was shut down because of an impasse between the JCC and The Federation about sharing the cost of operations for the campus. In 2009, they hammered out a deal in which the JCC would phase in to footing 65 percent of the operating costs and remain the primary occupant as long as it paid its share.

The JCC, as well as The Federation and New Jew, called the new agreement a win-win.

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