Site of newest elementary school OK'd by state

B Street property still needs to be purchased

August 19, 2011 

The Los Banos Unified School District can move forward with its chosen location for an elementary school.

Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the state has approved 15.9 acres of land on B Street near Place Road for an 850-student kindergarten through sixth-grade school. The district needs to buy the property to qualify for state funding.

"They do have money in the construction fund," Tietjen said. "They're expected to award $1.2 billion in November. Unfortunately, unless we are in escrow on the property, we can't get in line even though we have an approved letter."

Tietjen said there's $1.4 billion in school construction funding scheduled ahead of the Los Banos project.

He said buying the land is a matter of negotiating a price. The district also has money available through Measure K, a $44 million bond that helped with costs for Pacheco High School.

Henry Smith, a district trustee, said he questions whether the state will have the construction dollars. Tietjen said the state may choose not to make the money available.

"We got caught in that trap in 2008 with Pacheco High. We ended up getting the money, but it was no doubt some heartburn," Tietjen said.

The district has four to six years from site selection approval to get a school built, Tietjen said. In the meantime, the district faces overcrowding. Tietjen said an unusually large number of kindergartners are enrolled this school year. He expects to hire additional teachers.

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