ORINDA -- The future home of the Orinda school district is starting to take shape, as a task force of parents and district staffers continues to gather community input on how land sale proceeds can best be put to use.
Members of the school facilities task force have been meeting since Sept. 17 to discuss how funds from the $19.5 million sale of the former Pine Grove Elementary School site to developers Pulte Homes can be used to address the district's pressing facilities needs. Pulte is building the office as part of a deal finalized last year in which the developer is also building a city ball field between the office and the neighboring 73-unit Orinda Grove development.
The task force -- comprising one parent from each of the district's five schools along with two governing board members and two district staffers -- has also been holding community meetings at school sites to receive feedback from parents and others on spending the Pine Grove funds. The final school site meeting will be held Thursday at Wagner Ranch Elementary School.
Because state law limits the use of capital funds, the district must use the Pine Grove proceeds to address facilities needs, district Superintendent Joe Jaconette said last year following the sale. Jaconette also indicated at the time that those funds would be used to pay for facilities upgrades throughout the district, as outlined in a 2008 master facilities plan.
That plan was updated earlier this year, and identifies $27.7 million in district needs, including safety and solar projects and the replacement of aging portable classrooms. The district still needs to address seismic and structural issues that were estimated to cost about $20.97 million in 2008.
"The available funds are nowhere near the district's total facilities needs," Jaconette said. "With the funds now available, the updated master facilities plan has recommendations for how to spend the funds. The task force was asked to give recommendations on those funds so they can be prioritized."
According to an update presented at an Oct. 3 task force meeting at Del Rey Elementary, the district received $15.9 million in cash from the June 2012 sale of the Pine Grove property.
The district has spent about $2 million on projects including playground resurfacing at Glorietta and Del Rey elementary schools, and in-process projects including a $1.28 million upgrade to school servers and wireless networks and a landslide repair project at Glorietta that has not yet gone out to bid.
The district is also budgeting $1.7 million to help pay for the shell of the new district office and interior improvements. Pulte had originally agreed to fund the entire construction of the shell, but the school district agreed to shoulder 16 percent of the total construction cost because of an increase in the building's square footage, said business services director Loreen Farell.
District staff is expected to move into the new offices at the end of January.
Once the task force finishes gathering community input, it will make recommendations to the school board for which projects to pursue next.
As for the neighboring Pulte development, four model homes designed to give prospective buyers a feel for the dwellings to be built on the site are scheduled to open Saturday. The homes will range from 1,533 to 2,672 square feet, and are estimated to cost between $1.17 and $1.24 million.
Eight duplex units will provide affordable housing to moderate-income families, per city requirements.