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Commentary: Sale of LeBard property is best plan

March 27, 2013|By Celia Jaffe

Huntington Beach City School District's proposal regarding its LeBard property is a carefully crafted plan that takes into account not just the facilities needs of the school district but also the recreational and open space needs of the community.

In its current proposed form, this plan will result in the city of Huntington Beach owning an additional 5 acres without the city having to purchase that land. The baseball fields currently owned by the school district and contracted to Seaview Little League will fit within the open space to be owned by the city, as will a neighborhood public park containing a tot lot and tennis courts, new off-street parking, and new permanent restrooms and concessions.

The reconfiguration of the parcel will also allow for a development of approximately 30 homes similar in character to the surrounding neighborhood.

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The purpose of the plan for Huntington Beach City School District is to procure an appropriate professional office space for the school district by essentially trading one appreciating asset (the land value of our acreage at LeBard) that does not meet the needs of our district for another: a usable office space. The LeBard building is 46 years old and has not had any significant modernization since 1982 when the school was minimally adapted for the district office to move there.

School district facilities funding, including our local modernization bond, has been restricted to use at sites housing students, as it should be. The LeBard building is in poor shape and would require millions of dollars from our general fund to adequately repair and renovate to current standards.

Current costs of developing this proposal will be repaid to the district general fund by the sale of the land; therefore, an adequate central district office will be procured without any funds being permanently taken from educational purposes and without going to the public for additional money.

The LeBard proposal is working its way through the process with the environmental impact report, consideration by the planning commission, and action by the City Council and the HBCSD school board still to take place. There will continue to be opportunities for public input throughout.

Huntington Beach City School District has been generous with its facilities for sports and other community use, and this plan continues in that vein. However, our primary responsibility is to the students in our schools and to an efficiently functioning district providing their education.

This plan will improve our district functions while maintaining fiscal responsibility, and additionally the recreational functions will be preserved.

CELIA JAFFE is a Huntington Beach City School District trustee.

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