After over 40 years of occupying what is now the former South Pasadena Unified School District headquarters, located at 1020 El Centro St, the administration has finally made its move to their newly-christened site, quite literally, across the street at 1100 El Centro.
On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, the South Pasadena Unified School District School Board and Superintendent Geoff Yantz celebrated the completion of the new District office headquarters with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with the many “brokers, contractors, designers, and architects” who worked to make the particularly bumpy, and lengthy changeover a reality, and — according to those involved — a triumph.
Described as a “proud moment” by Yantz, the superintendent told the South Pasadenan News how ultimately he is “just impressed by our Board of Education who stayed the course all these years in trying to accomplish this goal, it was very complicated.” Encountering hurdles like how and with whom the deal would be made, while still ensuring the historical value of the original building — erected in 1885 and formerly known as El Centro School, the first schoolhouse in the city — would be preserved, the move what has been a decades-in-making effort. Yantz, who has served the district since 2007, recalls the motion has been before him and the Board since “the first day that I showed up here, on my first day of employment, and we haven’t stopped since,” mentioning that has it may even go as far back as over 20 years ago, when Dr. Patricia Martinez-Miller, who was on the board then, could corroborate that there was an effort during that time as well.
While acknowledging some of the skepticism held by members of the community over the move, Yantz implored those still feeling uneasy to reconsider how the new facilities will potentially breathe some new life into the administration. “It’s a professional environment and the office spaces workspaces are much more functional,” he said, “they’re [more] intended for what we do day in and day out.” A district release corresponds with the sentiment, saying, “The newly refurbished office space features modern upgrades that position the District well for the future.”
A guided walkthrough with Superintendent Yantz, Re/Max broker Sam Manoukian — whose role in the project set in motion what is known as a “land swap” agreement — and School Board member Martinez-Miller, showcased a two story-facility replete with an improved boardroom, conference rooms, “huddle” rooms for quick convening, and yes, offices with windows for administrative staff. A theme of memorializing the school district’s 134-year history is realized through archived photographs — from past sports teams to the construction and christening of the city’s five schools — decorating the walls, while the city’s heritage is honored through various rooms’ sharing the namesake of local landmarks like the Garfield House and nearby scenic San Gabriel Mountains.
Sharing in the anticipation, Board President Dr. Michele Kipke added that, “15 years ago, we knew that [the old] wasn’t the right building for us. We knew we needed to find a new home, we didn’t know what that was going to look like and I don’t think any of us could have imagined it would be this building across the street!” Kipke attributed a great deal of the successful endeavor to Yantz who took the time “evaluating our old building, and considering I don’t know how many pieces of property around here [while also] working with our city, working with community groups, working with architects and designers and helping an entire team feel comfortable with this move.”
As far as the new owners, Yantz says that they will develop into the new building into something new, though “I don’t have any information on what it’s going to be. I think they’re in the early planning stages.” Even though there may be some concern over what the fate of the old building may be, he and SPUSD look forward to the future. “This is going to be our new home for many decades and we believe that it reflects the values of our school district and is a very safe, efficient and professional environment for our employees and parents and community members,” concluded Yantz.