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Pleasant Valley District OKs Loan for School : Education: A new campus in eastern Camarillo will be built with the $4.2 million and $1.1 million in reserves.


Taking a calculated financial risk to relieve crowding and reduce busing, the Pleasant Valley Elementary school board early Friday approved taking out a $4.2-million loan to build a new school in eastern Camarillo.

The board voted unanimously to move ahead with the long-planned school at Woodcreek Road and Lynnwood Drive, which will be financed with the loan and $1.1 million in reserves.

The decision commits Pleasant Valley to paying up to $10.3 million in interest and principal over the next 25 years.

"This decision is one of the most difficult I've ever had to face as a board member," Dolores (Val) Rains said prior to the meeting. "I'm a Depression baby. I normally don't spend money I don't have."

District officials hope to save millions of dollars in interest by prepaying the loan with funds raised through a future bond issue or fees from developers.

But board members have acknowledged that this plan is risky.

Camarillo voters in 1991 twice defeated bond issues for school construction. And Rains said future school bond measures may draw even less public support.

"Will people vote for a bond if they already have a school up?" she said. "That's another gamble."

Pleasant Valley will have roughly $1 million in reserves for repaying the loan, which will consist of "certificates of participation" that are sold like bonds to investors. Such certificates, which are not backed by property tax revenue, typically carry higher interest rates than bonds approved by voters.

Without funds from a future bond issue, the district would have to rely mainly on developer fees to pay off the loan.

And developer fees hinge on new construction, which has slowed dramatically in Camarillo because of the recession.

But Rains and other board members said they are confident that the city will eventually have a burst of new development, as it did in the 1980s.

After weighing the matter for several months, school officials ultimately decided that if they were going to borrow to build a new school, now would be the best time.

Interest rates are relatively low and, because of competition among business-hungry builders, construction costs for the school will be less than they would be during better economic times.

In deciding to build the school, board members agreed that there would be enough capacity between the new structure and Las Colinas School--which is one-half mile away from the Woodcreek site--to stop busing seventh- and eighth-grade students out of eastern Camarillo.

But the board stopped short of deciding how to divide students between the two schools, postponing that question for another meeting.

Supt. Shirley Carpenter said the board will probably choose one of two alternatives: putting kindergarten through fifth grades at Woodcreek and kindergarten through eighth at Las Colinas, or placing kindergarten through second grades at Woodcreek and third through eighth at Las Colinas.

All seventh- and eighth-grade students from eastern Camarillo will continue to be bused to Monte Vista Junior High until the Woodcreek school opens, which will be fall, 1994, at the earliest, Carpenter said.

District officials will survey Monte Vista parents to see whether they want their children to remain at the junior high or attend Las Colinas after the Woodcreek school is open, she said.

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