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Morgan Hill
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December 9, 2023

District, city discuss fees for Sobrato construction

As much as $18,000 in fees necessary for completing offsite
improvements required for Sobrato High School are under discussion
by the city and the Morgan Hill School District.
As much as $18,000 in fees necessary for completing offsite improvements required for Sobrato High School are under discussion by the city and the Morgan Hill School District.

During the regular monthly meeting on Nov. 21 of the City/School Liaison committee, which is composed of representatives from the School Board, district, city and City Council, Kirsten Powell, attorney for the district, said she was looking into a policy that states that public entities, such as the School District, do not have to pay fees to other public entities.

There is a total of $30,000 in fees associated with the new high school scheduled to open in August, said City Manager Ed Tewes, and approximately $18,000 would go to the city.

The remaining $12,000 is in fees to LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, for the urban service area expansion and annexation requests.

Offsite improvements include installing sidewalks and widening Burnett Avenue from Monterey Road to the entrance of Sobrato High. The city fees are associated with checking plans and issuing permits for such work.

Councilman Steve Tate said costs to the city – staff time – would not go away whether the city was reimbursed for them or not.

“How does this address that these are real costs?” he asked.

Tewes said the city would only charge the district for “actual costs.”

Superintendent Carolyn McKennan said the district does not want the city to incur additional costs.

“We know that they are not trying to make money off of us, and we know that there is staff time to consider,” she said Tuesday. “I think it is positive that we are working together on this.”

The City/School Liaison committee also discussed planning for the future and facility usage. Specifically, representatives from the city are interested in what the district has planned for Britton Middle School. The board accepted during its Nov. 17 meeting a bid to fill in the pool; the pool needed massive renovations in order to keep it open, and maintenance expenditures were very high.

City Councilman Larry Carr, a former school board member, said he would like to see the formation of a task force to look at these types of mutual-interest facilities issues.

“I would like this committee to make a joint recommendation to our respective bodies (City Council and the Board of Education) to form a joint task force,” he said.

School Board President Tom Kinoshita said he would support the recommendation.

“This task force could look at other facilities planning issues as well,” he said. “Looking at facilities and properties, we have future needs and issues in common with the city, including the corporation yard, bus barns, a maintenance facility. The task force could look at the whole facilities plan, not just one site.”

The committee decided to recommend to the School Board and the City Council that two members from each body serve on the task force.

Trustee Shellé Thomas said the district needs to carefully consider plans for Britton Middle School. Carr mentioned that once Sobrato High opens next year, the middle schools will only house seventh and eighth grade students, and there is a “potential for surplus space at Britton” that could be utilized for the benefit of the city and the district.

Thomas cautioned against making decisions about Britton’s future right now.

“There are studies showing the effectiveness if a 6-8 (grade) configuration,” she said. “We may some day be bringing in the sixth grade.”

Carr said that example fits in with the idea of a joint task force.

“I completely agree,” he said. “That’s why I mentioned looking at the whole picture.”

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