Sale of IUSD’s Vista Verde property will bring millions for construction and modernization

The Irvine City Council recently approved a general plan amendment and zone change for the former Vista Verde School site, paving the way for its sale to William Lyon Homes.

The Feb. 28 action, coupled with a similar vote on the original Alderwood property in September, allows IUSD to leverage older, shuttered facilities to pay for new construction and much-needed modernization. It also enables the district to quality for millions of dollars in state matching funds. (More on that in a moment.)

Like Alderwood, Vista Verde was an aging campus that had seen its enrollment decline prior to its closing in 2006, just as a new Vista Verde School was getting ready to open at 6 Federation Way.

We noted previously that it may seem counterintuitive to sell properties as the district’s student population continues to grow, but IUSD’s growth is primarily coming from new developments to the north. With that in mind, staff worked closely with members of a facilities advisory committee to analyze enrollment projections, population trends and long-term generation rates before even considering a sale. IUSD has also been transitioning toward the development of newer, larger campuses that are more cost-effective and energy-efficient.

Though William Lyon Homes agreed to pay about $17 million for the Vista Verde site, the district stands to receive as much as $40 million with the addition of funds through California’s school construction program. The state’s Education Code requires that these dollars be spent on capital needs, meaning they cannot be used to pay for instructional salaries or general operating expenses.

A recent story in the Daily Pilot has more details.