The community members have quickly organized and held numerous meetings to prepare for tonight. “I’m not walking away,” said Chi Lu, 46, an eight-year resident whose home could be lost to the proposed plan. “I don’t care how much they offer me. “You don’t destroy an established neighborhood to build a school,” Lu said. “You have a community first, then you build a school. I understand there is a need, but do it justifiably.” Korenstein said the two proposed sites have not been finalized and that residents will have time to offer their input, including suggesting alternative sites. “If there is a better site for the school, we’ll certainly look at it,” Korenstein said. “I’ve never had a problem with that.” Korenstein said Panorama High School on Van Nuys Boulevard was originally envisioned north of Roscoe Boulevard, but then community members suggested that the school be built school south of Roscoe, which was ultimately done. The school district purchased the old Carnation plant as the site. “It can happen,” Korenstein said about school site changes. Under its $19.2 billion school-construction program, the largest public-works program in the nation, L.A. Unified has built 65 schools, with 80 more in various stages of planning, design and construction, officials said. In the San Fernando Valley, numerous schools and education centers have been built. Arleta, Panorama and East Valley high schools opened their doors on the same day, in October, to more than 8,000 students – a record, single-day new school opening for the district. Officials said that as they move forward on building more schools, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to target sites free of homes or businesses. “It’s very difficult finding open land today (because) we’re competing with developers,” Korenstein said. School administrators said the district is in the early stages of the site-selection process for Elementary School 14 and are months away from making any recommendation to the school board, which will vote on the matter. If residents fail to come up with another location and either sell their homes voluntarily to the district or are forced to sell them through eminent domain, it will no doubt leave a bitter taste in their mouths. “They used to say your house is your castle,” Trachtenberg said. “Well, it isn’t, if they can do this to you.” [email protected] (818) 713-3329 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s a very aggressive plan that is really good for students and their education, but there are always complexities in doing that,” said Julie Korenstein, school board member for District 6, which includes the proposed school. Tonight, school district officials will meet residents at Columbus Avenue Elementary School to explain their plans, discuss two possible sites and see whether residents have any alternatives. Choosing either site would doom 22 homes. One of the sites, located just north of Vanowen Street, is bordered by Bassett Street to the south, Hart Street to the north, Tobias Avenue to the east and Cedros Avenue to the west. The other potential site is bordered by Marlin Place to the north, Bassett Street to the south, Willis Avenue to the west and Cedros Avenue to the east. While the plan is in the very early stages, word of it has already upset homeowners. Residents said they were not adequately informed about earlier community meetings leading up to the district’s proposal. Many said they didn’t know anything about the proposed school until they or their neighbors received a letter from the district regarding the potential sites. VAN NUYS – If plans go through for a new public elementary school, residents fear they’ll lose not only their homes to the bulldozer, but also lose a tight-knit community where generations of neighbors have shared meals, friendship and laughter. “It’s not a neighborhood; it’s a family,” said Ron Trachtenberg, who with his wife, Mona, has lived for 34 years in their Tobias Avenue home, where they raised three children. “We take care of each other. We do things for each other.” Los Angeles Unified School District officials say proposed Elementary School 14 is necessary to alleviate crowding at several nearby elementary schools and to put those schools on a traditional calendar, rather than their current year-round schedule. As a public entity, the school district has the power to use eminent domain to seize private property to build the school.