Hey, let's spend $578 million on a public school

Purely out of curiosity, and on the assumption that the average public school should cost less to build than, say, a luxurious palatial chateau, I wanted to know how the most expensive homes on Earth stacked up next to this apocalyptic sinkhole. According to a report last November in Forbes, number one was the 100-room Spelling mansion listed at … $150 million.

So there you go, kids. There won’t be any jobs waiting for you when you get out, but you’ll have the time of your life until then. Enjoy the infrastructure!

“There’s no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the ’70s where kids felt, ‘Oh, back to jail,'” said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. “Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning.”…

“New buildings are nice, but when they’re run by the same people who’ve given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they’re a big waste of taxpayer money,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. “Parents aren’t fooled.”…

“Architects and builders love this stuff, but there’s a little bit of a lack of discipline here,” said Mary Filardo, executive director of 21st Century School Fund in Washington, D.C., which promotes urban school construction…

James Sohn, the district’s chief facilities executive, said the megaschools were built when global raw material shortages caused costs to skyrocket to an average of $600 per square foot in 2006 and 2007 — triple the price from 2002. Costs have since eased to $350 per square foot.

The cost didn’t come out of the state education budget; it was raised via $20 billion in voter-approved bonds, presumably as part of a “We’re going to dump half a billion dollars on a single school” campaign. But look on the bright side: As insane as the expense is, and as horrible as L.A’s school system is, at least they didn’t bulldoze any homes to build it. This time.