WATSONVILLE — The 150-unit housing project approved Wednesday by the Watsonville City Council will add an estimated 188 school-aged children to Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
That will likely impact Landmark Elementary, Rolling Hills Middle and Pajaro Valley High schools.
That’s according to an environmental impact report by Rincon Consultants, Inc. for California Sunshine Development, the company in charge of the project.
The trouble, said PVUSD Board of Trustees President Leslie De Rose, is that neither the developer nor the City of Watsonville called the school district to the table when planning the project.
“That’s something the school district considers when there are new developments coming in,” De Rose said. “That’s why it’s a good idea to work with the city when new developments are being planned.”
While PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said Thursday that Landmark has room for the extra students, the middle school is packed to capacity.
The report also stated that surplus space at high schools will not offset projected future enrollment in the next five years.
A 2015 School Facilities Needs Analysis by Dolinka Group, LLC showed that student enrollment throughout the district was at capacity in the district’s elementary and middle schools. That report concluded that PVUSD would have to build additional facilities by 2020 to hold the expected numbers of students.
This comes as PVUSD struggles to complete several construction projects, as well as badly needed repairs and upgrades and its 35 schools, many of which are more than 25 years old.
While the $150 million Measure L bond covers some of this, the district is currently looking for a way to complete additional projects, which carry an estimated price tag of another $100 million.
In its report, Rincon states that developer fees paid to the school district by California Sunshine Development — in this case $5.02 per square foot of residential unit — would make the impact on the schools “less than significant.”
But with no plans for new schools on the horizon, those funds will probably not address overcrowding issues.
PVUSD school district officials hope to head off such problems in the future with monthly intergovernmental committee meetings, which bring together the district, Watsonville’s city manager and city council members, along with county supervisors, De Rose said.
“I have very positive feelings moving forward,” she said. “We can be at the table to make sure there is space set aside for (future) schools and mitigate any negative impacts the developments might have.”
The PVUSD intergovernmental committee meets on the first Thursday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. in the community room, on the fourth floor of the Watsonville Civic Plaza, 275 Main St.