Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation President Rick Patterson said Friday he has to formally review the Hart district’s plans before he comments on the future of the foundation.
The foundation was set up more than a decade ago to acquire schools sites for the district, however, district officials voted to request that land and cash assets be returned, saying the foundation has outlived it usefulness.
“Based on what we’re hearing, (the return of the properties) is going to be a request — that’s what they had discussed and I guess voted on,” said Patterson, adding that the foundation hasn’t officially received or discussed any request from the William S Hart Union High School District.
“It’s not a big deal for us — they’ll tell us what they’d like to do. Hopefully, they have a plan and we’d like to know what that plan is.”
When pressed if the foundation would hand over properties, Patterson said it was too early to speculate, and reiterated an earlier statement expressing that the foundation always acts in the best interests of the district.
Hart district officials passed a resolution in May stating that the “best interests of the districts” entail giving the land back to avoid more than $50,000 in taxes the foundation is paying on its two remaining properties.
The remaining properties are a 70-acre lot known as the Hasley-Sloan property in Castaic and approximately 22 acres near Golden Valley Road and Sierra Highway, which is referred to as the South Summit property in district documents.
A combination of factors put the resolution in the best interests of the district, said Gail Pinsker, Hart district spokeswoman, in a May interview.
“The purpose of the Facilities Foundation was to purchase and hold properties for future school sites, which we don’t see a need for in the foreseeable future,” she said, citing the “declining enrollments that we and our elementary school partners are facing in the next few years.”
The district does not have to pay taxes on the land while holding the property for sale.
“So with all of that in mind, the board also is considering now dissolving the Facilities Foundation because the original need has been met,” Pinsker said.
The foundation consists of Patterson, foundation Vice President Gary Condie, Treasurer Kris Hough, Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor, school board President Joe Messina and Dennis King.
The foundation’s president said no individual on our board is in a position to give the board’s position on an item before that item is discussed as a board, adding that the board will try, as it always does, to reach a consensus on any item before it.
The board was scheduled to meet Monday, but the meeting was postponed by the board due to a medical issue from one of the members, he said.
Ultimately, the Hart district can direct the Facilities Foundation, however the foundation works as a private-public partnership, and as such, it’s technically a private entity, Messina acknowledged.
“The Facilities Foundation has said in the past that it operates in the best interests of the district,” Messina said, adding that the district has been evaluating its land needs for several years.
“We hope that the foundation follows our request on this matter. Being district trustees, we also act with the best interests of the district in mind.”