In an agreement that could become a model for creative financing for the district, the Los Angeles school board has endorsed a unique tax-sharing relationship with the City of Bell that will enrich the district's building fund by $11 million over the next 30 years.
By a 7-0 vote, the board on Monday approved a memorandum of understanding that calls on the Bell Redevelopment Agency to pay the Los Angeles Unified School District a share of the tax increases generated by a renewal project planned at Atlantic Avenue and Randolph Street. That share will total $11 million and will be used only for expansion and rehabilitation of schools in the Bell area.
In return, the district has agreed to sell the city a parcel of land it needs to complete its redevelopment project. The parcel was to be the site of one of two new schools planned for Bell, but the city has offered--and the district has agreed to buy--another piece of land a block away, at Randolph Street and Flora Avenue.
The city also has agreed to be a bonding authority for the district, allowing it to float a construction bond on the district's behalf to build new schools.
The agreement was pushed by Southeast-area board member Larry Gonzalez, who frequently has called on his colleagues to explore other means of school financing.
Gonzalez said similar arrangements will be explored with other Southeast cities, such as South Gate and Maywood, where classroom crowding is severe. Most schools in the Southeast area have been operating year-round for several years to cope with the demand for classroom space created by high birth rates and immigration.
"We're insisting that if redevelopment is going to take place in any part of the district, they (city and redevelopment officials) have an obligation to mitigate overcrowding," Gonzalez said.
Bell City Manager Byron Woosley said city officials recognize that "school overcrowding is the city's problem too" and are pleased with the agreement.
"A new school which the district does desperately need for this area will be relocated very slightly and in a better location for the school," Woosley said. "Plus, it frees up some commercial property for the City of Bell that can now be developed, assists us with our tax base and allows us to create some new jobs."
The deal is contingent on the district obtaining state approval to sell the first parcel and purchase the second parcel of land, district officials said. Since Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, limiting government authority to raise funds through taxes, the state has financed most school construction and must approve all land transactions. Officials said they foresee no problems, but obtaining state approval probably will take months.