School board to receive information on purchasing leased office space

School board to receive information on purchasing leased office space

Michele Ellson

This Tuesday, Alameda’s Board of Education will look at different options for purchasing the district office space Alameda Unified is now renting in Marina Village. A decision on whether to purchase the space could come next month.

Schools officials are required to submit a fiscal analysis to the Alameda County Office of Education 30 days prior to a school board decision on whether to purchase the building; that paperwork was submitted Thursday, an informational presentation the board is slated to receive on Tuesday says.

The school district has until December 31 to exercise the first option to purchase the property at 2060 Challenger Drive contained in its recently inked lease, at a cost of about $5.9 million. If the district chooses to purchase the property between January 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013, the price will be $6.3 million.

The district is now renting the building from Legacy Partners I Alameda LLC at a cost of $552,000 a year, or about $3.3 million over the six-year term of the lease.

If the school board votes to buy the property, the district will own a facility that’s designed around the administrative departments set up there with $800,000 worth of improvements that will have been made to the 26,720-square-foot space. The district would have a capital asset that could be purchased at a “very low interest rate,” the analysis says, and the purchase could be offset by about $1 million by leveraging the old Island High School site on Eagle Avenue, which the school board has declared surplus property.

If the district chooses not to buy the building and completes the six-year term of the lease, it will have spent $3.2 million without earning a capital investment in return, the analysis says. The district would spend additional funds if it moved its administrative offices again, and purchasing or seeking space at a later date is “most likely to cost more” than exercising the district’s current option on the Challenger Drive property, it says. Adding portables at Wood Middle School, for example, would cost $3 million, it says.

Historic Alameda High School, where district offices have been housed, needs “extensive retrofitting or replacement costing millions of dollars,” the analysis says. Half the money for the work could come from the state if it becomes a school site again.

The analysis offers three different scenarios for purchasing the Challenger Drive property, which would cost the district between $589,990 a year and $594,453 a year over 10 years.

The school board voted 3-2 on July 27 to approve the Marina Village lease for a term of six years, with a possible six-year extension, to begin on October 1. Schools officials sought the move after determining that much of Historic Alameda High is prone to collapse in an earthquake and that the district lacked the space needed to house its administrative employees elsewhere.

But some questioned whether the district might have been able to put at least some of its administrative employees in space the district already owns, and the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society offered a conflicting report that said the old high school buildings were less hazard than the district’s consultants had claimed.

Superintendent Kirsten Vital billed the district office move as “phase one” of a two-phase plan to address the district’s facilities needs, including $20 million in needed fixes identified at Alameda High. The school board was slated to begin discussing its facilities needs in the fall.

Separately, the board is set to approve a $170,000 contract for a “data and power improvement tenant project” at the Marina Village space.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include informational presentations on kindergarten roundup for 2013, evaluation criteria for the district’s new magnet and innovative school programs, implementation of its Novus Agenda software for online meeting materials and scorecards that have tracked the performance of different district offices. Board members will also receive an informational report on district staff evaluations and its program to assist struggling teachers.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and will be held in the Alameda High School cafeteria, at the corner of Central Avenue and Oak Street. An agenda and materials are available here. The Alamedan will stream the meeting live on its UStream channel.


Submitted by Page Barnes on Mon, Nov 12, 2012


I'm not sure it's accurate to say that AAPS's expert said that the buildings "were less of a hazard than the district's consultants had claimed." Their expert, WJE, does not dispute that the buildings are hazardous in their current condition. The point of contention does not seem to be not the degree of hazard existing now but instead involves how those hazards can be addressed. The WJE report does offer alternatives for reinforcing the buildings that might allow them to be occupied at some point in the future, but notably, WJE does not indicate how much those alternatives might cost. There's nothing in the WJE report that states that the building is safe for occupancy in its current condition.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Mon, Nov 12, 2012

Hi Page,

Thanks for your comment. I just re-read WJE's letter and it looks like you are correct that the experts appeared to agree on the hazards; the point of disagreement appears to be on the habitability of the buildings once the hazards are addressed as recommended by the district's consultant, ZFA (and this is excepting the Adult School building). For further clarification, I'm posted WJE's letter and ZFA's report at the bottom of the piece.

Submitted by Mike on Mon, Nov 12, 2012

I'm never voting for another parcel tax again. Expensive offices, expensive renovation, expensive moving, expensive fence, expensive studies, expensive administration raises and benefits.

How is even one student substantially benefited in any way from any of that expense?

What a waste.