School Board Meeting | Land-Swapping of School District Headquarters to be Discussed Once Again

The concept comes before school board during Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. meeting in district board room

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | The South Pasadena Board of Education will be discussing the concept of land swapping during their November 13 meeting.

Land occupied by the South Pasadena Unified School District, once considered for development, will be back on the school board’s agenda Tuesday night.

“During a strategic planning session last summer, the board said it wanted to take up the initiative to figure out what to do with the property,” explained SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “The board has discussed an interest in pursuing a land swap.”

The beige building at 1020 El Centro Street has been a longtime fixture in the heart of the community. It’s parking lot faces busy Mission Street with a wall going the length between Diamond and Fairview avenues.

A land swap, explained Yantz, is a process that allows a school district to trade its owned land with privately owned property. Board of Education members have held three discussions on the future of the property in recent months. In addition, legal counsel has presented a variety of options for the land swap.

“The board also gave direction in trying to secure a broker to consider assisting us in that type of transaction and reach an agreement,” added the superintendent, noting the local school district could swap its property with another property or two properties of equal value.

Nothing is going to happen overnight, insisted Yantz, explaining: “This is a process. It’s not an event. There’s still a long way to go as the board explores how to best serve its students, employees, neighbors and the community as a whole. Right now it’s just a topic of conversation.”

About nine years ago, the school board had an exclusive negotiating contract with a developer to construct Mission Place, a 91-unit mixed use project proposed for the school district’s parking lot.

Consideration to develop the school district lot was aimed at creating an on-going revenue source.

“Our goal in developing this property was to ensure the financial health of the school district over a long term,” said then Superintendent Joel Shapiro “We must look at every available means of revenue because we want to take care of the needs of our students and employees. We have to maximize our revenue.”

As the process evolved, the developer refined its plans and several public meetings offered the community an opportunity to share feedback. Ultimately, it was determined that the project was neither in the districts nor the community’s best interest and the school board ended the process.

In other board action Tuesday night:

Update on Extended Daycare Program

Board of education members will hear an overview regarding the after-school extended program. The number of students enrolled and what they experience during the course of a day will be addressed.

Principal Presentations

Each of the five principals will make detailed presentations regarding their school plans that were developed and approved by each of the School Site Councils.

Related School District News

SPUSD Work with City Officials

Yantz and Board of Education representatives meet with City of South Pasadena officials each month in an effort to collaborate on projects and to discuss any shared matters of interest.

“The goal is to ensure open lines of communication between the two entities within the community,” explained the superintendent.

The group recently discussed traffic management and on-going school construction projects. Most notably, SPUSD shared details about the new STEM building, expected to be completed in December.

Yantz, along with two Board of Education members, meet monthly with City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe and a pair of City Council members.

The group discussed traffic management and school construction projects during its most recent meeting. SPUSD officials also shared details about a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building, under construction at South Pasadena High and expected to be completed in December.

“We meet on common issues and interests,” explained Yantz. “Occasionally, we bring in other individuals if they are relevant to the topic of discussion. It could be the fire chief, the police chief or a department head.”

STEM Building Completion Targeted

The new Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) building under construction on the South Pasadena High School campus is on target for completion in December, according to Yantz.

“Its looking great,” said the superintendent. “It’s really coming along.”

Inside the structure are four science labs, a flex lab, six classrooms, restrooms, and a locker room for the girls’ locker room.

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