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Pasadena Unified Board Discusses Selling Disused School Campuses

Published on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 | 5:52 am

At a Board of Education Finance Study Session about the District’s  Facilities Master Plan on Feb. 9, Board Members wrestled with the idea of selling disused school campuses. 

Across the United States, cities are “right-sizing” their school districts, closing and combining schools to combat financial difficulties and shrinking enrollment.

In 2005, the Pasadena School Board closed Allendale, Noyes,  Linda Vista and Edison elementary schools.

In 2019, the Board decided to shut down Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Franklin elementary schools. 

“I think it’s a better idea for the board to divest the district of some of these properties – not a generally held popular opinion but I think it’s the only way to rid ourselves of what is a facility made albatross on our upkeep,” said Board Member Patrick Cahalan. “You can buy it from us for X amount otherwise we’re gonna close the school.”

Cahalan made the statement in response a question posed by lead architect on the master plan, Kevin Fleming: what did the Board Members want the school district to be in the future. 

Cahalan pointed out these former school sites now being leased out should not be given a priority in the master plan. 

“I think I’ve had enough conversations with Board Members at other school districts to know that the prevailing strongly held opinion is that you never let go of property. But I think we are at a point now where we are asking ourselves: do we really want to spend money on roof repairs at Linda Vista,” Cahalan said. 

“We don’t use it, we lease it out to somebody else,” he added. 

While it’s true that the lease agreements bring income to the district, Cahalan advised against spending some significant portion of the $500 million funding for school district sites’ renovation to the former school sites and instead he advised that the dollars be focused on upgrading sites that are still being used. 

“I would really strongly encourage this Board to say we can look at this map right now and I can tell you you can pick 4 or 5 sites that don’t ever need to be used again by this district. We’re just never going to have 40,000 children in this district again so we don’t need to keep them and it’s probably in the best interest of the Pasadena school children for us to stop spending funds on these facilities.”

“My inclination would be to start with facilities that are closest to where the kids are and where we have the highest enrollment of our most disadvantaged kids, really prioritize those sites and make sure that they get done right and then move on to the other school because those are folks that are always going to be here and we should take care of them first.” 

Board Member Jennifer Hall Lee said she opposes against the suggestion, saying if the board will close schools, the residents will lose public spaces. 

“When we close schools it definitely hurts children and trustees are not here to hurt children ever.”

“We are here to fix facilities. That is what we are charged with but if we keep speaking about having to close schools and starting with small ones then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy,” said Hall Lee. 

Board Member Patrice Marshall McKenzie also spoke against selling unused school sites. 

McKenzie said it is important for the board to ask whether or not the dollar amount the district is leasing the properties for is paying for the upkeep.  

“We’re not going to get any more land ever. The footprint of our school district is very finite and it’s very well defined and the property that we have is the property that we have.  We can decide a myriad of uses for it.”

Board Member Tina Fredericks urged the board to explore how the unused schools will be used for the district to generate more income. 

“I get that unused campuses are a liability, an expense but I would like to explore how to convert that into an opportunity,” she said. 

The PUSD Board is working on its Facilities Master Plan, which will define and prioritize the district’s facilities needs for the next 10 years.

Some of the buildings need upgrades to accommodate new models of learning, serve the needs of families in the area and ensure that they adhere to the latest safety standards, according to PUSD. 

Fleming said he will schedule another workshop session as he noted that there is no consensus  among board members as to what the focuses of the master plan should be. 

For more information about the Facilities Master Plan, visit:

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