The Turlock Unified School District plans to appeal the Stanislaus County Committee on School District Organization’s decision to deny a proposal that would have transferred approximately 92 acres of currently uninhabited land in north east Turlock from the Denair Unified School District to the Turlock Unified School District.
In February, the Committee on School District Organization rejected RBK Development's petition to transfer the territory currently in the Denair district to the Turlock district.
TUSD released a statement on Friday stating that its Governing Board has concluded that the petition does meet all the necessary requirements of law, and that it is in the best interest of the District, its students, employees, and community to appeal the County Committee’s decision to the State Board of Education. Because there are likely to be additional subdivisions and other developers that raise the same issues in the future, TUSD would like to analyze long-term solutions, including providing safe routes to school.
“The District’s primary goal remains a continued dialogue with the Denair Unified School District, the County Committee, the City of Turlock, the Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools, and the Turlock community as a whole, in the hope that we can jointly collaborate to reach a mutually beneficial agreement the benefits all students in the region,” stated Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan.
Stanislaus County Office of Education attorney Chet Quaide said in February that in order to grant the petition, a number of conditions set forth in Education Code 35753 must be substantially met. Of the 10 requirements, three were not.
Quaide said in regards to the condition that the reorganized districts must be adequate in terms of number of pupils enrolled, the Committee referenced to California Basic Educational Data System numbers that revealed that DUSD currently enrolls 1,237 students, which is less than the guideline set by the California Code of Regulations of 1,501 students in a unified district. TUSD enrolls 13,950 students.
Another one of the conditions that was not met revolved around the petitioners’ main argument of fostering substantial community identity by transferring the territory to TUSD. Findings presented before the Committee revealed that the geography, social center and the school center aspects would actually favor Denair High School, which is about one-half mile from the proposed development, and DUSD for the proposed territory.
The last condition that was not substantially met was if the proposed reorganization was primarily designed for purposes other than to significantly increase property value.
“If the transfer of property were to occur, the homes would sell from between $5 to $7 a square foot more than if they remain in the Denair school district,” said Quaide in February. “Resulting in almost 2,300 square foot that would be an increase in price of $12,000 to $15,000.”
If the decision is overruled, it could have negative financial affects on the Denair district.
DUSD Superintendent Aaron Rosander said in October that it could cost the District approximately $1 million in developer fees and about another $750,000 in annual state funding based on how many students would live in the new homes.
"Last month the County Committee on School District Reorganization correctly denied the petition by a local developer to transfer this land. Though I greatly respect TUSD, I’m disappointed to hear that their Board of Trustees is filing an appeal. I believe it is time we agree that this matter is rightfully closed and to turn our focus fully and completely on education itself. I've no doubt that Denair schools and Turlock Unified can harmoniously and effectively operate our districts side by side as the boundary stands, and I look forward to doing just that," Rosander said.