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District considers long-term lease for former school
October 19, 2007, 12:00 AM By Heather Murtagh

Putting single family homes on a former school site is just one option before the South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees looking to turn a closed school into revenue.

The board will hold a special study session next week to research options for Serra Vista School — an elementary school that has gone unused for 15 years. Among the potential options are a long-term lease or selling the site for residential development. The meeting will give trustees a chance to understand the pros and cons of all the options.

On Sept. 13, property consultant Tom Shannon shared a 40-minute presentation on the possibility of leasing the property for residential development. Questions from the trustees led to a more in-depth conversation regarding the options.

Shannon will review the options, a timeline, estimated revenue projections, education law and next steps. In addition, there will be a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of leasing versus selling the site.

It’s important to note that no decisions will be made, Shannon said.

Serra Vista School closed in 1992 due to low enrollment, said Ron Little, assistant superintendent of business services. Since then, the district rented a portion of the site to various groups, he said. Now the board will consider a long-term use for the site of approximately 22 acres.

A committee was formed after closing Hillside Elementary School in 2005 to study the potential uses for all surplus property. In February, the committee gave the district options including a long-term lease, sale, maintaining a portion of the site while renting or selling another and short-term leases, said John Sanna, chair of the Surplus Property Advisory Committee.

A long lease would offer the district income with fewer restrictions, said Sanna. Under state law, profit from the sale of school property can almost exclusively be used for capital improvements.

A neighboring district, the San Bruno Park School District, takes advantage of a long-term lease for the 20 acres that used to be Engvall Middle School at Interstate 280 and Sneath Lane. VB Golf Centers, Inc. rents the site for a driving range.

The board meets 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the South San Francisco High School library information center, 400 B St., South San Francisco.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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