Saugus school board approves Santa Clarita Elementary committee 

Main entrance of Santa Clarita Elementary School on Seco Canyon Road. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal
Main entrance of Santa Clarita Elementary School on Seco Canyon Road. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal
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Officials with the Saugus Union School District and governing board members on Tuesday heard what a typical “7-11” committee looks like before the board approved the formation of one to determine what to do with the property that includes Santa Clarita Elementary School. 

The board voted in November to close the oldest school in the district at the end of the current school year, citing high costs to upgrade buildings to be up to 1976 earthquake standards, as outlined in Assembly Bill 300. 

A 7-11 committee — so named because it is typically made up of between seven to 11 members of varying positions within the community — is part of the process when a school district makes the decision to close a school, according to Education Code 17388. Sarine Abrahamian, an attorney with Orbach, Huff & Henderson, explained via Zoom why such a committee is necessary. 

“The primary responsibility of the 7-11, or asset management committee, is to prepare and approve and then present to the board what’s called a recommendation report — their recommendations around use or disposition of the property,” Abrahamian said, adding that such a committee is absolutely necessary when considering selling property, but it is a good practice to use it for the overall process. 

Abrahamian said that the committee should work similarly to other public committees, meaning their meetings would be open to the public and all business would be pursuant to the Brown Act. 

The committee members, per Education Code 17389, should be representative of the following:  

  • Ethnic, age group, and socioeconomic composition of the district.  
  • Business community (e.g., store owners, managers, or supervisors).  
  • Landowners or renters (preference to be given to representatives of neighborhood associations).  
  • Teachers.  
  • Administrators.  
  • Parents of students.  
  • Persons with expertise in environmental impact, legal contracts, building codes, and land use planning, including, but not limited to, knowledge of the zoning and other land use restrictions of the cities or cities and counties in which surplus space and real property is located.  

The committee’s role, per Education Code 17390, is as follows:  

  • Review the projected school enrollment, and other data as provided by the district, to determine the amount of surplus space and real property.  
  • Establish a priority list of use of surplus space and real property that will be acceptable to the community.  
  • Cause to have circulated throughout the attendance area a priority list of surplus space and real property and provide for hearings of community input to the committee on acceptable uses of space and real property.  
  • Make a final determination of limits of tolerance of use of space and real property.  
  • Forward to the district governing board a report recommending uses of surplus space and real property. 

More information on how to apply to be on the committee will be released at a future date, according to Superintendent Colleen Hawkins. 

Board President Matt Watson wanted to ensure that the resolution forming the committee was standard, which Abrahamian indicated that it was, though board member Anna Griese had one wrinkle to add: She wanted to be able to review all applicants, and not just the ones that district staff recommended to the board for approval. 

All four board members present agreed with that nuance, though Abrahamian added that some applicants would be tossed out immediately due to them not fitting the criteria (i.e. not living within the district’s boundaries). Board member Patti Garibay was not present at the meeting. 

As far as how long the process will take, Abrahamian said that once the committee members are selected, the typical time frame is five meetings, though it can differ. 

The number of recommendations that the committee provides to the board can differ, Abrahamian said, though it is typical for there to be multiple recommendations so as not to force the board’s hand into an action. 

“You want them to have the freedom and flexibility to do it, within the parameters, of course, that we’re guiding them through during the meetings and with the information that’s presented,” Abrahamian said. “As you can imagine, in some cases, depending on the property, there’s a lot more, there may be less. So, we tend not to set those parameters in the bylaws themselves.” 

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