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District's move to declare properties surplus raises concerns

Three community members took to the podium at the Thursday, March 21 meeting of the Claremont Unified School District to express concern about the board’s recent decision to declare 2 pieces of district property surplus.

The first of these was Barbara Solorzano, who teaches “Mommy, Daddy, Grandparents and Me” parenting classes through the Claremont Adult School, which are designed for children ages 18 months through 5 years and their caregivers.

Ms. Solorzano said she came to “clarify a misconception,” which was printed in recent Claremont COURIER articles, that the site of the La Puerta Intermediate School had been abandoned in recent years.

In fact, Ms. Solorzano noted, she has been teaching her classes in a portable building at the La Puerta site, located at 2475 N. Forbes Ave. in Claremont, for several years. The site was declared surplus by the CUSD school board at their February 23 meeting, as was the site of the district’s current Service Center. 

Ms. Solorzano said she hopes she can stay at the site, which the district plans to put up for auction soon, as long as possible and that the district continues to keep the benefit of her parenting classes in mind.

Next up was Michael Keenan, a Claremont resident who was a candidate in the recent city council election. Mr. Keenan noted that the landscape in the area is changing due to the recent explosion of high-density condominium developments. He cautioned the board against rushing to sell off district assets given that Claremont schools will soon be receiving a new stream of funding thanks to recent legislation.

In December 2011, the California Supreme Court abolished the more than 400 redevelopment agencies operating throughout the state, which were funded by $5 billion per year in property tax money. Once the now-defunct agencies, including one in Claremont, pay off their existing bonds, that revenue will go to schools and special districts.

On another topic, Mr. Keenan said he feels approving a charter school aimed at CUSD’s low-income students would be a mistake.

“It’s a way of segregating the population based on different socio-economic backgrounds,” he said.

His comments were in reference to the current petition for the Embracing the Whole Child Art and Technology, spearheaded by Lynette Lucas, which is currently under consideration by the board.

Finally, a coach involved with the Claremont Fastpitch softball organization reminded the board that the 150 girls in his organization use fields at La Puerta Park. They generally use the east side of the park for their games and practices as well as their parking needs, because the west side of the park is so active.

Should the La Puerta property be sold, he said that access to the fields could become virtually impossible. Perhaps, he suggested, the district could mark off an area in the back of the property to ensure a point of entry and a place to park.

Check the Friday, March 29 edition of the COURIER for a full report on Thursday nights CUSD board meeting.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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