Council vote may enable IUSD to consider alternate high school site, but is there still time?

The location of Irvine’s next high school continued to be a topic of discussion, as the City Council on Sept. 10 voted in favor of a plan that would present an alternative site for the Irvine Unified School District to consider.

Though IUSD has already secured a workable location for the campus, Superintendent Terry Walker said the district would be willing to evaluate the viability of another property. At the same time, the superintendent has repeatedly stressed the critical need to adhere to the current timeline.

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As we pointed out a week earlier, IUSD is on track to open its fifth comprehensive high school in the fall of 2016. If the project is delayed — and changing sites this far along would make that a very likely scenario — significant overcrowding is projected to occur at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools, as new development brings another 8,500 students to IUSD.

IUSD and the developer FivePoints Communities have agreements in place for a 40-acre property near the northeast border of the Orange County Great Park. Those contractual arrangements allow for a land substitution, but only if the two sides agree to a different location, or if the first site fails to receive the required state approvals for the high school project.

Following a length discussion, City Council members on Sept. 10 voted to offer 40 acres of city-owned land on the west side of the Great Park for FivePoint Communities to purchase, with the idea that FivePoint would then present that site as an alternative for IUSD and its Board of Education to review.