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Board reviews options for surplus property and Service Center

The fate of district property will be mulled at the next meeting of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education, set for Thursday, February 21.

Board members will vote on whether or not to ratify the January 17 recommendation of the Surplus Advisory Committee that 2 parcels of district land be declared surplus, ideally in preparation for sale.

Two votes will be taken, one regarding the site of the short-lived La Puerta Intermediate School, 9.7 acres located at 2475 N. Forbes Ave., and a second regarding the 3.5-acre site of the district’s current Service Center (700 W. Base Line Rd.).

At the February 11 school board meeting, when discussion was held about the recommendation of the Surplus Advisory Committee, also known as the 7-11 Committee, there were few questions regarding the potential sale of the La Puerta site. Given that it has been all but abandoned in recent years, it is likely the board will see little reason not to ratify a surplus status. 

The Base Line Road site spurred a great deal of discussion, however. Councilmember Steven Llanusa has cautioned the board against declaring the Service Center site surplus before deciding on a new, well-vetted, location. There have been 2 plans in the past to relocate the Service Center, he emphasized, both of which proved unworkable.

At the same meeting, Rick Cota, director of the Service Center, noted that he is up for a move. The current Service Center is much larger than the district needs, he says, and it would be a great time to build a new, significantly streamlined base of operations.

Mr. Cota delivered a PowerPoint presentation with what he says is just the first of a number of options: a potential new Service Center built at San Antonio High School. While she applauded the work Mr. Cota has done, Board Member Hilary LaConte expressed concern about the proposal, worrying that building on the San Antonio campus would take away beneficial green space from students.

The district, directed by ed code and following common sense, is deferring to the opinion of the 7-11 Committee.

“We are not in the real estate business, so we would defer to people in the field of real estate,” assistant superintendent of business services Lisa Shoemaker said.

Ms. Shoemaker and 7-11 Committee member Brad Umansky have cautioned the board that, should they be leaning in favor of declaring the Service Center site surplus, they may wish to move quickly. This is because it is reasonable to speculate that homebuilder DR Horton, who purchased a piece of property adjacent to the Service Center site last February for $6.2 million, might want a second parcel, Ms. Shoemaker said. There is a certain economy of scale involved in developing 2 neighboring parcels, being that the same permits and the same equipment and materials can be used.

The next step is up to the board. They may vote to ratify the 7-11 Committee’s decision in both cases, declaring the Forbes and Base Line sites surplus. They may vote to declare just one of the properties surplus, or vote against the committee’s recommendation in both instances.

Also on tap for Thursday’s meeting is a Spotlight on Excellence acknowledgement of a standout certificated employee and a vote for the board to ratify Resolution #12-2013, joining with school boards across the nation to urge congress to rescind across-the-board cuts to education.

Opponents say sequestration, a term used for the cuts promised by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Taxpayers Relief Act of 2012, which are to take effect in March 2013, would have a devastating effect on public education. Of every $1 million received in federal aid, each district would lose $59,000, according to the school board’s most recent agenda, available on the CUSD website (www.cusd.claremont.edu).

The February 21 school board meeting, to be held at the Richard S. Kirkendall Education Center at 170 W. San Jose Ave. in Claremont, begins at 6:30 p.m.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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