The board of the Santa Ana Unified School District recently began discussing exercising its legal power of eminent domain to acquire land for expansions.
Officials said they must consider building campuses to solve a crowding crisis, but there is virtually no undeveloped land left in Santa Ana large enough to accommodate a school.
Trustees have yet to vote on whether to begin condemning properties, but the board in the last decade has forced homeowners and businesses to sell their properties to the school district.
The board also is considering issuing bonds to finance construction projects.
Santa Ana Unified, which has 53,000 students, is the seventh-largest school district in California and continues to grow. In the last eight years, the district built 12 schools to create enough classrooms for new students. But even the new schools lack space, in part because of the class-size reductions in lower grades.