With a land swap deal dead in the water between the city of San Carlos and its elementary school district, the district is looking into other options for where to place the Charter Learning Center.
The San Carlos Elementary School District is exploring other options for a Plan B — one is to keep the K-8 school at the Tierra Linda Middle School and move it to the upper campus, while another is to move it to the Heather Elementary School field. The district will have a final vote on how to proceed in August, according to board President Adam Rak. Councilman Bob Grassilli cast the vote — that required four of the five councilmembers to vote yes — Monday night that killed the possibility of a fall ballot measure to rezone North Crestview Park for a school.
“Obviously, I was very disappointed by the outcome last night at the City Council meeting,” school board Trustee Seth Rosenblatt said Tuesday. “I think we just missed a historic and unique opportunity to address many issues at once — that’s unfortunate.”
Grassilli voted along with Councilman Matt Grocott against overriding the protest of residents who believe the plan will increase traffic, eliminate precious open space and tax the city’s coffers building fields and fighting expected litigation by neighbors. The tentative deal called for the building of a new Charter Learning Center on the land. The district would have given the city approximately 4 acres on the backside of Tierra Linda, a 2.9-acre open space piece adjacent to Heather currently used as a dog park and $1.5 million to invest in a city-owned athletic field at Tierra Linda. If any of the three parcels were ever used or sold for development, the city and school would have split the profits.
“Crestview was a great choice,” Rak said. “We knew there were three votes there and knew it would be difficult to get the super majority. … It was certainly disappointing from my end.”
In a letter written Tuesday, Superintendent Craig Baker shared his disappoint with parents and community members.
“This has rendered irrelevant our tentative agreement to swap land with the city, which would have allowed us to reduce the future impact of traffic in our city, preserve and enhance sports fields and provide a new home for the Charter Learning Center,” he wrote. “As a result, the voting citizens of San Carlos will not get the final say as to the disposition of the Crestview property, as the process effectively ended last night with the council’s vote. Despite our disappointment, we want to express our sincere appreciation to the councilmembers who took up this matter with utmost seriousness. We also thank city staff who put in many hours of hard work to come to the tentative agreement we reached last week.”
Baker noted the district will continue to look at creative solutions to the current enrollment challenges.
“Regardless of the board’s final decision, the school district will remain focused on providing the best possible educational environment for all of our students and will work with the city to address the future challenges of traffic and potential loss of field space,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, San Carlos Mayor Mark Olbert, a former school member and major proponent of the land swap, wrote a blog post Tuesday expressing his disappoint in the council vote.
“Last night’s vote to kill the swap — and set up our community to deal with worse traffic, overcrowded school sites and less athletic field space — marks a sad, unfortunate and unnecessary chapter in San Carlos history,” he wrote.
Still, for the first time in the community’s history, the district and the City Council worked together and came up with a deal that met needs spanning the responsibilities of both agencies, he wrote.
“This demonstrated that our two parallel local governments aren’t doomed to stay locked in a years-ago-they-did-something-the-other-side-didn’t-like tit-for-tat mindset,” he wrote. “That experience will help our community the next time a joint opportunity comes up.”
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