Almanac

Schools - October 19, 2011

Former Ladera School site topic of community meeting

by Renee Batti

A community meeting to discuss the Las Lomitas School District's plan to lease out the former Ladera School site through an open-bid process is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in the Ladera Recreation Center.

Leasing of the property is an issue of concern for residents of Ladera, a small unincorporated neighborhood near Portola Valley. Many community leaders have expressed support for allowing Woodland School, a preschool-through-eighth-grade school, to remain on the site, saying the school is a good neighbor that has respected the needs of the neighborhood.

Woodland has leased the site since 1981. Woodland School officials have been pushing the district to begin the necessary process to negotiate a new lease of the site after Woodland's lease expires in July 2013, and have made clear their intentions to compete in the process.

Last month, the district surprised school officials and the Ladera community by indicating it would use the open-bid process, which limits the district's control over what the lessee can do with the property, instead of the anticipated "request for proposals" — or RFP — process that would give the district significant control over whom it would allow to occupy the property, and for what purpose.

In a letter to the Ladera community, Superintendent Eric Hartwig said the board chose the open-bid process "after being assured that doing so would both preserve the district's ability to set restrictions that are very important to the residents of Ladera and maximize the revenue stream from the asset for all residents of the district."

Although an open-bid process requires the district to lease the property to the highest bidder, with few exceptions, Mr. Hartwig said the district can have a degree of control, through the bidding prospectus it develops, of the type of tenant who will occupy the site. "We are confident that we can identify a long-term tenant who will become, or continue to be, a respected and conscientious Ladera neighbor," he wrote.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, the district will discuss a timeline for the process, take comment, and answer questions. The letter indicates that the district intends to advertise for bidders in January, with the bidding conducted in April. In May and June, a final lease will be negotiated, with a final agreement signed in July, according to the letter.

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