Crestmoor school debate not over

Pressure to sell the former Crestmoor High School for some quick cash has eased, but school district officials say a sale of the property is still a possibility.

The San Mateo Union High School District had considered selling the 41-acre San Bruno property, the former home of a 1,500-student high school that closed in 1980, to help retire $74 million in old construction debt that was sapping the district’s general fund.

Voters offered a reprieve on Nov. 2 when they passed Measure O, a $186 million bond measure that will be used in part to retire those old bonds, which were “a giant drag” on the district, said Dave Pine, president of the district’s board of trustees.

But the fate of the Crestmoor campus is still up in the air, as the bonds include funding to relocate the 250-student Peninsula High School continuation school that is currently housed on the campus.

“The issue as to what to do with Crestmoor hasn’t gone away, but some of the urgency has,” Pine said.

Some San Bruno residents oppose a potential sale, saying it would be more cost-effective to rehabilitate the old Crestmoor buildings than to build anew.

“I still believe that when you already own a piece of property and you have a functioning high school at it, it’s much more efficient to bring the high school up to current standards than to go out and buy another piece of property,” said Larry Franzella, a former San Bruno mayor.

Judith Puccini, a former 20-year district employee who lives near the campus, said many community groups in San Bruno use the sports fields on the school’s campus. “I still hope that we can get them to change their minds,” Puccini said of the district.

Superintendent Scott Laurence said officials haven’t yet made a decision and plan to research options over the next three to four months for relocating the continuation school.

Laurence said the Crestmoor campus is high up on a hill, making transportation a challenge for students, and it doesn’t have the science labs or art classrooms that students could access if it was closer to a larger high school.

Pine said maintaining the playing field space would need to be addressed, but he said he thinks the district should explore selling the site once real estate prices rebound.

He said rehabilitating the campus should be considered, but the cost of the renovations and the location issue are concerns. “I think it’s fortunate that we don’t have to do anything in a rush,” he said.

 

ABCs of Crestmoor campus

  • 41 acres
  • 210,000 square feet of buildings
  • Hosts about 250 students at Peninsula High School
  • Most of the students — about 160 — live in the city of San Mateo
  • Comprehensive high school closed in 1980
  • Some buildings are used for storage of district technology equipment
  • Partially rented to Crayon College preschool

Source: San Mateo Union High School District

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