• GUEST OPINION

      A building, a parking lot and cars

      PUSD administrative building (Photo – Staff)

      Pasadena Unified School District confronts several hot topics in the New Year. This is the second in a series of articles exploring those and other PUSD topics.

      By Laura Hackett

      Now that PUSD has decided to close four schools (Roosevelt, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilson), there has been a shift in focus as to what will happen to the properties. Pasadena will close these four school sites at the end of the 2020 school year.

      Property Swap

      This is how a property swap works: PUSD offers a piece of property. Respondents offer a package in exchange (property+property, property+cash). If PUSD believes it is getting good value, it does the swap. The property offered in exchange can be anything, by law, but the goal is to exchange for either commercial or residential income property. Revenue from commercial or residential income property goes into the PUSD general fund. Any cash offered as part of the swap goes into the PUSD general fund. There is the downside risk that respondents to the PUSD offer want to do the swap because the respondents know that the income property they are offering will produce less income in the future, so a property swap is not a risk-free endeavor for PUSD.

      Mayor Terry Tornek is more than happy to help with the property swap. Sam Manoukian from Remax is PUSD’s realtor. He has experience with property swaps in the Glendale and South Pasadena school districts, and he seems to be the obvious choice. One realtor parent in the PUSD is not so sure; Mike Crowley believes that Bruce Seid at Keller Williams is a better choice. Because PUSD made a horrible choice on the district solar plan, PUSD should consider carefully its choice of realtor for property swaps.

      Many wonder if Mayor Tornek’s help with the property swap of the Hudson is sincere. A common criticism of help from the City of Pasadena is that the City Council Members do not have children in PUSD. Mayor Tornek, however, did have grandchildren in Hamilton Elementary School and now they are at Marshall Fundamental School.

      Hudson building

      In terms of the Hudson building, it actually would not be legal for the City to buy it outright. The section of the education code that enables property swaps does not allow transfer of property to another government entity. Conceivably, PUSD could transfer the property to a third party in the swap, and then it could turn around and sell it to the City, but PUSD could not be involved, although that may be a recipe for future accusations of fiscal mismanagement. One critic of this plan, however, feels that PUSD needs to be taken over by Los Angeles County Office of Education before it squanders every piece of land in which the citizens invested. I did find in interesting that at the Board meeting Sam Manoukian did not want to give a value for the Hudson; this only would be disclosed in a closed meeting. A hypothetical value of $40-50 million was thrown out.

      Mayor Tornek urged PUSD to guide its social objectives towards other sites and swap the Hudson for an income generating site. Of course, many would prefer that any property acquired in a swap would include affordable housing, but in this particular case it is PUSD’s fiduciary responsibility to get the best deal for the district. If it finds a swap that includes local residential property as part of the deal, PUSD could then choose to rent that property at below market rates.

      7-11 property sale

      A 7-11 property sale process is different from a property swap. It is an option for disposal, but it takes longer and has its own entanglements. The sale of property outright entails funds received for capital improvements. Property swap means that property can be acquired that can generate revenue for the PUSD general fund. More money can be made with an outright sale, especially when the PUSD has $65 million in outstanding capital improvements, but we also have a structural deficit and no closure on the UTP contract and teacher raises. Kids can go to school without a pool, but they can’t go to school without teachers.

      Laura Hackett has a K-12 Multiple Subject California Clear Teaching Credential, a P.P.S. Credential, a M.Ed. and an M.S. in Educational Counseling. She has taught private, public, private sector as well as Home and Hospital Teaching. Laura has a second grader in Don Benito Fundamental School, in the Pasadena Unified School District. The opinions she holds are her own and not those of the Pasadena Unified School District or ColoradoBoulevard.net.

      > Read Part 1: Solar Plan.

      > Read Part 3: Board Elections.

      [This article has been updated with removal of one sentence for more clarification, January 9, 2020, 11:41 am]

       

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