The Ravenswood City School District's governing board voted 5-0 to begin to solicit bids for long-term leases at its district office and a shuttered school, potentially for housing and office space, during a Thursday night meeting. The district, which released a request for proposals (RFPs) on Friday, would like to lease the spaces to help bolster revenue to increase teacher pay and fund initiatives like early learning programs.
Declining enrollment — it's fallen nearly 44% since the 2017-18 school year, according to a report by district staff — has changed the district's space needs and its overall facility footprint. The funds raised from the leases are intended to cover general expenses and enable the district to maintain investments it made via stimulus funds during the pandemic such as smaller class sizes, reading intervention teachers and expanded summer and extended day programs.
"This wasn't just an idea that popped up out of nowhere," said trustee Ana Maria Pulido during the meeting. "We've been considering various options for a long period of time. We're ready to move forward and take action and make something of that site to benefit both the district and the community."
"While the board does not traditionally review and approve RFPs — only contracts — we wanted to bring these two proposed requests for proposals to the board," according to a staff report. "These RFPs reflect the culmination of multiple months of marketing from (real estate firm) JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) who has had conversations with over 70 developers as part of their effort to market the site."
The district expects to receive about three to five serious proposals for each site, according to a presentation by Chief Business Officer Will Eger.
The district doesn't yet have an estimate of how much it might be able to lease the spaces for.
The 110,000-square-foot building space where James Flood Magnet School used to operate, at 320 Sheridan Drive in Menlo Park, is west of U.S. Highway 101 next to Flood Park and sits on an approximately 2.5-acre site. The school has been closed for about a decade.
The district office is located on a 4-acre site at 2120 Euclid Ave. in East Palo Alto, and is about 176,000 square feet of building space. By 2022, the district plans to move out of its office, which will be demolished. Buildings on the site can be up to eight stories, or 100 feet tall, according to a staff report.
"2120 Euclid is a prime development site thanks to its scale, generally rectangular shape, and flexible zoning," according to a district staff report. The area is zoned for office and residential use with a requirement for ground floor retail, to contribute to an active street front. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will likely be expedited via studies completed for nearby projects recently. East Palo Alto's development approval includes a preapplication and application stage, concurrent with CEQA analysis, and is anticipated to take nine to 12 months, according to district staff.
The district will review proposals and invite those behind selected proposals to participate in an RCSD panel on Nov. 29 and 30. The board plans to review recommended contracts by the Dec. 9 meeting.