The San Diego Unified School District Board voted Tuesday in favor of closing and relocating a charter school and leasing the property to a development company that plans to build a luxury apartment complex.
The district decided, with a 4 to 1 supporting vote, to tear down Innovations Academy on Scripps Poway Parkway and lease the land for a return of more than $40 million over the next 66 years.
“Win-win for the school district that provides ongoing revenue for our schools that also will build workforce housing and affordable housing for San Diego residents,” Laura Fink of the Monarch Group said. Monarch is developing the nearly 7-acre parcel.
District spokesperson Samer Naji said the project hits “multiple checkboxes,” and said it will generate revenue that will keep supplies in the classroom and money in the pockets of teachers.
“That’s the fund that pays for teachers, it pays for items in the classroom and it pays for the services that students and families love,” Naji said.
According to Naji, the district has already set aside $20 million for a new Innovations Academy campus, it just has to find a new location for it. Naji said the students deserve permanent facilities, for which the current site was never intended.
Many opponents of the deal showed up following the vote to express their frustrations.
“Why would you proceed with a venture that is completely opposed by a community?” one opponent asked.
"I am very offended that they didn’t really take into consideration what was going on. Clearly, they had all made up their minds before we even stepped into the room,” Lori Moore said.
Nearby resident Gaurang Parikh said he thinks the land is worth plenty more than the district will get for it.
“I think the San Diego Unified School District is getting a raw deal out of it,” Parikh said. “We should leave it alone.”
Other residents are worried about the development’s impact on parking and traffic in the neighborhood, and some think it will bring a rash of crime.
Monarch plans to fit 264 units in the complex with resort-style amenities. Twenty-two units are designated as subsidized units.
The state's second-largest school district is cash-strapped.
In 2017, SDUSD tried to cut $124 million from their $1.4 billion operating budget. Most of the money came from cuts to employees. The district issued more than 1,500 layoff notices and offered early retirement options that attracted 1,100 people.
In December, SDUSD trustees approved $47 million in broad cuts.