The Encinitas Union School District and Encinitas City Council revealed the terms of an agreement to purchase the Pacific View school property March 27.
The city agreed to pay $10 million for the 2.8-acre site in order to keep it public under its current zoning. The city also agreed to keep the historic schoolhouse on the property.
EUSD board President Marla Strich and City Councilman Tony Kranz addressed a jubilant crowd Thursday in front of the abandoned school to discuss the details of the agreement. The announcement came just days after the school board originally intended to auction the site.
The deal is not yet finalized, but Strich said the board and the city will work together to reach a contract by summer.
“It is a win-win for both sides. This is the way the board wanted it to turn out and this is the way the City Council wanted it to turn out. We’re thrilled to keep this property in the public domain,” Strich said.
According to Strich, the funds from the sale go to the school district’s general fund and the board will be able to determine how to use the money.
The city now faces the task of raising funds to build on the site. Kranz offered a few possible solutions, including reaching out to the private sector or even using a crowd-sourcing site to fund the project.
“We’re not going to be bashful about looking at ways to make this less impactful on the budget,” Kranz told the crowd.
Kranz also said that the city will get public input to decide what to build. There are still talks of an art center being built, but nothing is final.
“Personally, I’d like to see an art and cultural gallery space,” said Naimeh Tanha, member of the Encinitas Commission for the Arts.
EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird said the district plans to provide input for the site.
“The city is going to involve the community, but we’re definitely going to be part of the input process,” Baird said.
The district originally planned to auction the property March 25.
More than 700 emails were sent to the City Council and the school district urging the two to come to an agreement. Kranz acknowledged Scott Chatfield, founder of SavePacificView.org, during the press conference for his key role in mobilizing residents to send emails and attend a district meeting to voice their dissent.
After a closed meeting March 19, the city put forth an offer that the school district accepted.
“It all happened so quickly; the negotiation was happening the night before and when we got the email the next morning we were all jumping,” Tanha said.
The auction has been postponed to May 22 to give the city time to officially purchase the site. The district is keeping the bids it received.
“The bids are locked up and we’re hoping to cancel them at the meeting next month,” Baird said.
The school has been abandoned since 2003, when it was closed because of low enrollment and aging facilities.
Ellen Wright is a North County freelance writer