Hawaiian Gardens to Buy ABC School Site

Times Staff Writer

The ABC Unified School District Board of Education has approved the $3-million sale of a Hawaiian Gardens elementary school--closed in June because of declining enrollment--to that city's Redevelopment Agency.

Hawaiian Gardens, which is part of the school district, will raze Bloomfield Elementary School on East Carson Street and build a shopping center on the site, said City Manager Douglas Dunlap.

No specific plans have been drawn up for the shopping center, which will be the second in Hawaiian Gardens, he said.

Hundreds Protested

Hundreds of parents and teachers protested during public hearings last spring when the board was considering closure of Bloomfield Elementary School and Cabrillo Lane Elementary School in Cerritos.

The school district decided the closures were necessary to save money because of declining enrollment. Because of such shifts in enrollments, the sale of school buildings to cities is becoming a frequent occurrence, Assistant Supt. Virgil L. Hall said.

The sale of school buildings to cities is becoming frequent.

Cabrillo Lane was leased at no cost in September to Cerritos College. The college agreed to pay for the maintenance of the property, which it uses as an extension campus for day and evening classes, college spokesman Mark Wallace said.

The Parent Committee, a group of parents angered by the decision to close the schools, filed an intent-to-recall petition against Dianne Xitco, then president of the school board, over the issue.

She had been singled out because she was president of the board and had voted with the majority for the closures, the recall group said when filing its petition. Xitco remains on the school board but recently was replaced as president in the board's annual reorganization.

$1.6-Million Savings

The 25,000-student district was operating at a deficit of more than $2 million, Xitco said at the time, and closing the schools was expected to save it an estimated $1.6 million.

The group, which needed more than 7,000 signatures of the 38,600 registered voters in the district to force a recall, never followed up on the petition, said a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Office, where the petition was filed.

In addition to approving the sale of Bloomfield school, the board also has voted to hire an attorney to help it retain the $3 million from the sale, Hall said. The state, which approves school sales, usually retains some of the money.

The district hired attorney Eric Bathen of Costa Mesa, who has been successful in dealing with the Office of Local Assistance, a branch of the State Allocation Board, which oversees the money raised from school sales, Hall said.

"We want him to help us keep all of our money," Hall said.

The ABC school district includes Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens and part of Lakewood.

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