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ABC Chief Rejects Plan to Sell Whitney High

May 10, 1987|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

CERRITOS — Supt. Kenneth L. Moffett has rejected a consultant's proposal for the ABC Unified School District to make money by selling Whitney High School for residential development.

Consultant Wayne D. Wedin, who was hired by the school district, suggested the real estate venture in February, saying it could generate $17 million for the district. The Wedin plan, however, involved closing Haskell Junior High School and moving Whitney, the district's college-preparatory school, to the Haskell campus. By moving to the Haskell campus, Wedin said, the school district would have money to build the gymnasium the high school has wanted.

"I would favor an entirely different approach from Mr. Wedin's suggestion at this time," Moffett stated in presenting his own proposal last week to the seven-member Board of Education.

Moffett, who was hired eight months ago, said he does not want to close any school, and proposed a plan for building a gymnasium with lockers and showers at Whitney.

He proposes using $3.2 million from the building and deferred maintenance funds to convert the district's Culinary Arts Center next to Whitney, into a gym and multipurpose room for art, music and food services. The culinary arts program is being eliminated, effective June 30, as part of a budget-cutting plan adopted earlier this year.

Because the district's 21,000-student enrollment has not declined dramatically in the last several years, Moffett said in an interview, he prefers not to close schools.

2 Schools Closed

The district closed two schools--Bloomfield Elementary in Hawaiian Gardens and Cabrillo Lane Elementary in Cerritos--in 1984 because of declining enrollment. The Bloomfield property was sold to the Hawaiian Gardens Redevelopment Agency for $3 million. The Cabrillo property is being leased at no cost to Cerritos College.

Moffett recommended to the board that a portion of the money from the Bloomfield sale, $2.9 million plus $2 million from the building fund, be used for the construction of the facility at Whitney and other district capital improvement projects. Moffett estimates that it will take $3.2 million to complete the Whitney project. The district must get approval from the state to spend its building funds.

Moffett also suggested that eight acres of vacant land on the 30-acre Whitney campus could be sold at some future time.

The board was asked to study the proposal and make recommendations at a later date.

"I like what Dr. Moffett has proposed. I'm excited. I'm against closing schools because it can be so traumatic," board President Elizabeth J. Hutcheson said in an interview.

Hutcheson said she believes that the majority of the board favors the report. She said that she expects there will be a lot of discussion in the coming weeks about it and other capital improvement needs of the district.

"This is just the beginning. All 29 district sites' needs are being evaluated by the capital improvement committee and a report is due soon," Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson said she hopes that enough money is available to make all site improvements.

"If we can support the entire district needs as well as Whitney, I'm all for the proposal. Whitney has been such an issue," she said.

The district ran into resistance last year when it tried to sell excess property on the Whitney campus. The district wanted to sell 18 acres of vacant land to the City of Cerritos for $2 million. It planned to use the money to build a gym at the school, while the city developed the 18 acres as a major sports complex.

The effort failed when some parents complained that the district was not being paid enough.

"I think parents at Whitney can relax now, knowing the school will not be sold," added board member Richard Arthur.

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