SANTA FE SPRINGS — The City Council has agreed to share redevelopment money with the Whittier Union High School District to pay for one-time-only maintenance projects at Santa Fe High School. The proposal could set the stage for other joint projects between the city and two other area school districts.
The first project under the new agreement will be a $150,000 paint job at the high school; the cost will be divided evenly between the city and school district. Future projects would have to be approved by both the city and the school district.
"It's serendipity in action. It's marvelous," said Principal Thelma Montgomery, who informally suggested such an arrangement to city officials to help the high school keep pace with other beautification projects in the city. The 31-year-old school, she said, "certainly needs a face lift."
Locker Color Doesn't Match
Montgomery said she had put the paint job for the exterior of all buildings, including the mismatched blue lockers that line the outside of buildings, at the top of her list of major maintenance projects at the high school. The lockers, she said, are especially irksome because they do not match the school's gold and black color scheme, making "our buildings look very tacky."
Since tax-cutting Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, school districts have had to apply to the state for money for large maintenance projects as well as money for new schools. In recent years, competition for state money increased, leaving fewer dollars to go around, school officials said.
Supt. Norman B. Eisen said the proposal approved by the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, allows the school district to speed up maintenance projects and "allows us to do more with our money."
"I think it's wonderful that the governing body of a city . . . would be willing to help school districts to improve facilities," Eisen said.
The city has said it will consider proposals to pay for similar maintenance projects at Santa Fe Springs schools in the Los Nietos School District and the Little Lake School District. Los Nietos has one elementary and one middle school in the city; Little Lake has two elementary schools and one middle school in the city.
Little Lake Supt. John V. Pulice said the proposal has sharpened his hopes that the district will be able to spruce up schools with projects it could not otherwise do on its own.
"It will be a tremendous boost to us," Pulice said. He added that if his district receives redevelopment money, he would like to see it used mainly to repaint school exteriors and buy classroom furniture.