An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an Associated Press report on next month's opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles: "With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation's most expensive public school ever. The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of 'Taj Mahal' schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities. ... At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex's namesake, a manicured public park, and a state-of-the-art swimming pool. '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.' ... Critics note that nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed, the district faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation's lowest performing."