Unified district considering buying Palm Court properties

January 22, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Brian D. Wilson

Santa Paula Times

Trustees of the Santa Paula Unified School District are considering the possibility of purchasing properties now for sale on Palm Court.

Palm Court runs right through the middle of the Santa Paula High School campus, separating the main campus from the McMahon Gym and the football field. The two properties most likely to be considered are 41 Palm Court and 8 Palm Court. The district already owns the home at 42 Palm Court. 41 Palm Court is listed at $324,900 and 8 Palm Court is at $375,000.

Superintendent Alfonso Gamino told the board, “Obviously we have an opportunity here. Properties are not for sale all the time. We have an opportunity to possibly buy these homes.  If new homeowners buy them, could be 20 or 30 years before they’re available again.”

Assistant Superintendent Donna Rose noted, “The first question is what funds would we use for this? The developer fee fund probably would be my recommendation, because those funds are supposed to be used for growth purposes.” That fund is now just short of $2 million dollars.

Board member Michelle Kolbeck wasn’t sure they should do it. It’s kind of hard to justify that we take general fund money,” she said. “We really need to think this through as to priorities. Other schools in the unified district are also too small.”  She was referring to Grace Thille and McKevett elementary schools. She added, “We need to look at the master plan for entire unified district, not just the high school.”

Rose told the board, “There is money from the County Schools facility funding which was carried forward from the former high school district. These are funds that were set aside for modernization type projects.”

Trustee Christina Urias said, “I think we should seriously consider purchasing the homes on Palm Court. The high school is just a fraction of the size it should be. Most high schools are 26 acres and we’re barely at 15.” 

It was also noted that if the four properties behind the new science buildings could all be eventually acquired, one idea would be to move the tennis courts there, allowing for parking where the courts are currently located.

Board member Chris Wilson added, “To me I don’t see the value in 28 Palm Court (another property for sale), the house in the center of the Y. I see value in the houses from the swimming pool to Santa Paula Street.”  He suggested maybe approaching property owners on the other sites from the pool south, letting them know of interest by the district in purchasing some time in the future.”

No action was taken at last week’s meeting and it will likely come back later.

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