Ryah Cooley

Hermosa schools’ district office could move to South Park

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The Hermosa Beach City School District could move its offices from Hermosa Valley School to classrooms at South Park as early as this fall.

The move would be one of the ways the district is looking to help ease the overcrowding issue at its campuses. The idea was presented by City Manager Tom Bakaly and Superintendent Patricia Escalante at a joint meeting of the  City Council and school board on Wednesday.

In 1950, 1,430 students attended six schools in Hermosa Beach; the district now has roughly the same amount of students attending only two schools. Portable buildings and the multipurpose room have been used to help with overcrowding at Hermosa Valley School, which accommodates the third through eighth grades.

The board sent a letter to the city in April, asking about the possibility of the district using classrooms at the Community Center, formerly Pier Avenue School, for its offices. Because the property was sold to the city in 1978 for less than fair market value, the district was given 50 years to lease parts of the building for free should the need arise. Fourteen years remain on that lease

At Wednesday’s meeting, Escalante said the district would need three classrooms for office space; the city could only offer two at the Community Center. At South Park, Bakaly said there are three classrooms the district could use at no charge. The four total classrooms at the site  are part of the former South School and are currently used for after school programs run by the city and district.

“I think it’s a win-win and it doesn’t cost the city anything more,” Bakaly said.

Escalante said that if the district offices were to move from Hermosa Valley School, the resulting open space could be used for a science lab, computer lab, or the school’s administrative office. Moving the school office to the space at the front of the school that the district office currently occupies would also allow the Hermosa Valley School campus to be a closed, secured campus.

“I would love to stay in my office… and be with the kids,” Escalante said. “But I would rather move than have to put more portables on campus.”

Escalante said the she and Bakaly are working to get the district’s potential move to South Park on city council and school board agendas as soon as possible.  If the district were to use the classrooms at South Park for office space, the after school program run by the district would move to Hermosa View School.

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