Centennial and Gorman School District Sign $233M Deal to Build Schools

Press release from public relations firm Casey & Sayre:

GORMAN, Calif. – Centennial Founders LLC today signed an agreement with the Gorman School District to set aside six sites throughout the master-planned new town for state-of-the-art facilities for Kindergarten through 8th grade. Centennial will finance the schools at an estimated cost of $233 million.

The first school will be fully staffed and ready to greet students as the initial families move into their homes anticipated in 2013, while additional facilities will come on line as new phases of the community are built. This agreement comes on the heels of an earlier one between Centennial and the Antelope Valley Union High School District that paves the way for two high-quality high schools to serve the Centennial community as it unfolds. These also will be financed by Centennial at an estimated cost of $254 million.

“Schools are a critically important element of Centennial and we are pleased to be in partnership with these two local school districts to operate the facilities,” said Carlene Matchniff vice president of entitlements, Centennial. “We are now assured that all children living in Centennial will be close to a neighborhood school and will have top quality educational opportunities from kindergarten through high school.” At completion, the six elementary schools will have 6,000 students, Matchniff added.
According to Steven Sonder, president of the Gorman School Board, “We have worked diligently for three years to craft this agreement which is a great outcome for the Gorman School District. We welcome Centennial to the Mountain Communities and look forward to working together for the future of our children.”

In addition to identifying and reserving sites for each of the new K-8 schools, the agreement assures the availability of funding for site acquisitions as they are needed, as well as money to furnish each school and provide it with the most up-to-date learning tools and equipment. Financial support for the cost of operating the first school also will be made available until adequate state funds are forthcoming.

The funding agreement assures Centennial residents that they will not have to wait until enough school district fees have been collected from each house sold to start building a school, which is the norm in new developments. The first homeowners will have a completed and fully staffed school ready for their children as they take up residence.

“While the cost to develop the six schools in this way is estimated at more than $233 million versus the approximately $73 million that would be generated through school fees, Centennial Founders believes this is the best way to ensure a seamless transition and high quality education for students joining the Centennial community,” noted Greg Medeiros, vice president of community development, Centennial. He reported that community facilities districts are one option for funding.

In addition to these six elementary schools and two high schools, Centennial will have two additional elementary schools in its final phases of development that will be located within the Westside Union School District. Other community facilities to be built by Centennial include a library, three fire stations, one sheriff’s station, 21 parks and 150 miles of bike and walking paths. Emergency services and healthcare facilities also will be provided for. Approximately one-half of the 11,700-acre new town will be preserved as natural open space.

Centennial Founders is a partnership of Tejon Ranch Company and three prominent community developers, Lewis Operating Company, Pardee Homes and Standard Pacific Homes.

About Centennial
Centennial is planned to be a self-contained, self-reliant community that generates its own economic vitality. The new town will be set in harmony with its environment and fully integrated with housing, jobs, shopping, medical facilities, cultural and recreational amenities and educational institutions. It will not spring up overnight – but will grow organically over 20 years.

Centennial will have approximately 30,000 jobs along with 23,000 homes (12,800 single-family detached homes; 6,200 attached condominiums and townhomes; and 4,000 rental apartments). The homes are designed to be affordable to 74% of those working in the community. The jobs/housing rate is a crucial smart growth strategy that reduces traffic on regional arterials and improves air quality by developing opportunities for people to live and work in the same community. In order to attract the majority of the expected 30,000 jobs at Centennial, the master plan includes a business district with a potential of 12 million square feet of space.

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This is part of the July 17, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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