VUSD looks at addition by subtraction
Visalia Unified plans to sell more than 100 acres to purchase two sites for future elementary schools in southeast and southwest parts of town
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – Finding land to set aside for its next middle and high school was a major leap in planning for Visalia Unified last month. But finding new land for new elementary schools is something the district considers every year.
This year was no different. Just as the district prepares to open Denton Elementary this fall and is ready to modernize Mineral King, Crowley and Washington schools as soon as funds are available, staff told Visalia Unified school board members at their Feb. 26 meeting that the district is already looking at sites for new elementary schools in southeast and southwest corners of the city. The district currently owns 18 acres on Lovers Lane south of Caldwell and 22 acres at Pinkham and K streets originally slated for a middle school but does not currently own any excess property on the southwest side of the city.
Robert Groeber, assistant superintendent of administrative services for Visalia Unified, told the board members that it would be a challenge to find suitable property on the southwest side of town because schools must be more than 2 miles away from airports and the Visalia Airport is the largest parcel in that corner of the city.
At the meeting, Groeber presented a report from the Superintendent’s Property Advisory Committee about designating nearly 100 acres of surplus property. If approved by the board later this month, Groeber said this would be the first time that VUSD has auctioned off property in more than a decade. The money from the sale would provide the district with funding to purchase new elementary school sites on both sides of town south of Highway 198.
The properties included less than an acre at Meadow Avenue and Mooney Boulevard, 22 acres at Pinkham and K streets, 13 acres at Houston and Road 152, 11 acres at Lovers Lane and Mill Creek, 18 acres on Lovers Lane south of Caldwell, and 8 acres on Marcin Court just north of Hurley Elementary School.
Board member Juan Guerrero said he would like to see the district retain the property at Lovers Lane and Mill Creek and use it to build a theater on the east side of town.
“Measure A did not include anything for the east side,” Guerrero said, referring to the $109 million school bond passed by voters in November.