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Capo to Discuss Building a $30 Mil K-8 School

The new school, which may hold up to 1,600 students at one point, is planned for Rancho Mission Viejo.

Rancho Mission Viejo just east of San Juan Capistrano. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Rancho Mission Viejo just east of San Juan Capistrano. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

Plans for a new K-8 school – which may at one point hold as many as 1,600 students – are starting to take shape for the Rancho Mission Viejo project east of San Juan Capistrano.

The school will be the first new brick-and-mortar school in Capistrano Unified School District since San Juan Hills High opened in 2007.

The school, however, won’t be needed for a few years.

The first residents of the first phase of development – called Sendero off of Ortega Highway and Antonio Parkway – are about to start moving in. But because part of the project is devoted to senior housing, the 1,227 homes and apartments are only projected to produce 322 K-8 students and 77 ninth-12th-graders, according to a PowerPoint presentation the trustees will see at their meeting Wednesday.

Those students will attend existing local schools, with the Ranch’s developers picking up the cost of any bussing needed, according to the presentation.

Sendero will take through 2015 to build out, according to the presentation. Land is being graded right now in the not-yet-named Planning Area No. 2 – northeast of Sendero and east of Ladera Ranch, although build-out is expected until 2019. It is there where the new K-8 school will be built.

Construction will begin when one of several conditions are met:

  • Rancho Mission Viejo produces 300 K-5 students more than the available, permanent capacity for Ambuehl Elementary in San Juan Capistrano (there’s currently 66 open spots) – or
  • The 1,150th dwelling unit is two months away from closing escrow

The school will be located in the southerly portion of Planning Area 2 near the future extension of the 241 Toll Road, in an area the developer had to prove was flat enough to accommodate a school, according to the presentation. The trustees on Wednesday are expected to see a video simulation of the site and potential traffic conditions.

Besides permanent accommodations for 1,200 students, the new school will have portable classrooms to serve another 400 students while additional schools are built in the rest of the development, planned for a total of 14,000 homes built over two decades.

The school district estimates it will cost nearly $30 million to build the K-8, including $21 million to buy the land, according to the presentation. The money would be raised by a combination of taking advantage of state funding, developer per-unit fees and additional developer contributions – either directly or from a Mello-Roos district.

Another immediate task is to begin to study what to do with the high school students in the new development. In an earlier discussion, trustees learned that the project may not produce enough ninth-12th-graders to justify building a new high school.

The Board of Trustees meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at district headquarters, 33122 Valle Road.


Stacy Klinger September 20, 2013 at 06:33 PM
I hope this goes through...so tired of all the Private Schools.
Tom Marantz September 20, 2013 at 07:39 PM
I don't see a problem with private schools, charter schools, home schooling. I wonder what the socio-economics of these new developments will be? New homes, upper-middle-class?; these people go to private schools at a higher rate than others... Ok, now I'm interested in the timing: So once 1150 homes are close to closing, CUSD get a $30M check? (or they shell out 21M for the land now and get $9M when enough residents arrive). Does CUSD get any firm commitments from local parents that they will be attending, or is this just guess work? I also hope they monitor the construction better, the last few years have been full of costly construction mistakes.
MayMom September 21, 2013 at 09:44 AM
The developer should be paying a large portion of this. The school district just doesn't have enough money to build another project to accommodate the new development. As for private schools, everybody has the right to put their child where they want. I don't criticize somebody for home, private or charter - my kids attend public school and do well academically and socially. Others can't thrive in that environment and need a place that better suits their needs.
M September 21, 2013 at 10:58 AM
So there's money to build a new school but no money to upgrade other schools - repairs, painting, mold removal, air conditioners etc. figures.
Mission Viejo Mom September 21, 2013 at 06:13 PM
This should definitely be paid for with development money and mello roos.. I remember that when San Juan Hills High School was built they had to use measure A funds, which should have been used exclusively for repairs and upgrades on the older schools.
Vickie September 22, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Hello - these students already attend schools - WHY EVEN consider another school> can we not reallocate? WHY BUILD ANOTHER SCHOOL>>>>??? BUSSES?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Vickie, this is a brand new development. No one's living there yet, but ultimately, it will be 14,000 new homes. See this article for the number of new students who are expected to move there http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/groups/schools/p/capo-to-figure-out-what-to-do-with-rancho-mission-vief10c224696
Capo Parent September 25, 2013 at 11:43 AM
M CUSD spent all its deferred maintenance money on salaries and benefits. That's why, according to Sup. Farley, CUSD has almost $1 billion in needed repairs, replacement and renovations.
Capo Parent September 25, 2013 at 11:47 AM
MVM SJHHS was a financial disaster for CUSD. It was built by a dump, underneath high power lines and adjacent to a high pressure jet fuel line. SJHHS was built at the site it was located solely to make the Whispering Hills development a reality. Without SJHHS there is no Whisperting Hills development. Think about it, CUSD spent well over $150 million for SJHHS and it didn't have all the land it needed (remember the fiasco about the football stadium), and some of the land it did have can't be used because it is too close to the high power lines. Another shameful legacy of the Fleming era.

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