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School board wants to talk with city

Issue of new schools to be addressed in workshop Issue of new schools to be addressed in workshop Issue of new schools to be addressed in workshop
By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger reporter
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Western Placer Unified School District has agreed to schedule a workshop with the city of Lincoln to talk about how the district is going to pay for future schools. The school district’s Superintendent Scott Leaman said he wants the school board “to be fully informed” before board members talk to City Council. “I want the board members involved to fully understand the whole board’s intention after these meetings,” Leaman said. The school board started holding meetings in August to determine which action or actions the district will take to address funding of future schools. Leaman said he anticipates the board will take action at its Oct. 2 meeting and schedule a workshop with the city of Lincoln afterward. “We welcome a full and open dialogue with the district over these very important planning issues,” Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short said. “It is important that the school district be able to justify their needs to our community. I believe that a workshop is the appropriate forum to have increasingly important discussions.” Short expressed his concern at the Aug. 21 school board meeting about the city and the district trying to iron out details during a school board meeting. In an Aug. 24 e-mail, district officials invited the city and interested parties to attend a series of school board meetings on the topic. Short sent district officials an e-mail Aug. 31, explaining why City Council would not be present at the Sept. 4 school board meeting. “I appreciate the fact that the school district has invited us to the normal board meetings,” Short said. “However, based on numerous conversations, including the last workshop the school district set, which was four years ago, I do not feel that the board meetings are the appropriate setting to really get to the bottom of what the school district is asking the city to do: collaboratively find funding mechanisms or be challenged based on CEQA grounds for any action the city takes.” School district facilities planner Heather Steer told school board members Tuesday that district plans for working collaboratively with local jurisdictions include workshop(s) with the city of Lincoln staff and council members, visits to neighboring school districts and example school sites, and continued quarterly, possibly bimonthly, collaborative group meetings with the school district and city of Lincoln staff and council members. The district needs $762 million to build nine elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools to house approximately 24,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12 for 33,731 dwelling units from seven villages outlined in the city of Lincoln’s 2050 General Plan Update adopted in 2008, according to Steer. Villages 1 through 7, which are in the city of Lincoln’s sphere of influence and within the school district’s boundaries, are basically bounded by Sierra College Boulevard on the west, Athens Avenue on the south, Wise Road on the north and Pleasant Grove on the east. One option discussed during Tuesday’s meeting was a school facilities improvement district. Cathy Dominico of Capital PFG gave a presentation on what a school facilities improvement district (SFID) is. This type of district is a mechanism for issuing general obligation bonds, Dominico said. The district would have customized boundaries of property subject to taxation and can be authorized under either the two-thirds or 50 percent general obligation voter approval methods. The district may not include property already included in one of the district’s communities facilities districts. “I like the SFID concept of covering certain areas,” school board member Paul Carras said. “We don’t have too many other options.” Leaman said the other option is the workshop process. “We could meet with developers, sit down and look at options,” Leaman said, “and not have to form a school facilities improvement district. This is why communication with the city is so important. This is the best type of solution considering the whole tax base on housing. A school facilities improvement district is just another option.” Board President Damian Armitage said that he wants to work with developers and the city. “People will not want to come here if schools are not here and vice versa,” said board vice president Kris Wyatt about future housing. Armitage said that residents still moved to Lincoln Crossing before Lincoln Crossing Elementary School was built. Board clerk Brian Haley said the sign for Twelve Bridges High School went up before the reality of the economy hit and the funds weren’t there to build that school. “Any new development has the expectation of a school,” Carras said. “You can’t build houses and have to bus those students to other schools. It will not sit well with developers or parents.” District officials presented portables as both an interim and long-term solution until schools can be built to house students coming from new developments. Board members asked district officials to begin the master plan process for sites anticipating the majority of portable additions. The district has room for portables at Carlin C. Coppin Elementary School, Creekside Oaks Elementary School and Sheridan Elementary School. Lincoln High School and Glen Edwards Middle School may also be options for portable classroom placement.