District leases property to gain stable revenue for teachers, programs

After receiving only one salary raise in the last six years, elementary school teachers in Daly City may finally get a break if a school district successfully leases 23 acres of its land to developers.

The Jefferson Elementary School District is hoping to lease four sites, including two former schools and a field at an existing school, to provide teachers and staff with a much needed raise.

Due to a declining enrollment, teachers and staff were put on a salary freeze from 2001 until 2006, when they received a 3 percent raise. In December, the district began negotiating another raise with teachers and staff, but the negotiations for a new contract were halted after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his proposed budget cuts.

Leasing the land for 60 years is a chance to establish a stable source of revenue used for salaries and program improvements, board president Annette Hipona said.

“This district has not been providing pay increases for six years, so that’s a high priority for the board,” Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Enrique Navas said.

The school board will decide soon whether to accept any of the proposals to develop housing on the site of former Christopher Columbus School and a maintenance yard on Hill Street. The board is also considering a proposal from Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco to lease a 4.5-acre field near Daniel Webster School.

“We don’t have money and we’ve lost students, but the one thing we have in our district is property, and if that’s our asset, we need to utilize it,” said Melinda Dart, president of the Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers, a union that represents 250 teachers.

While board members wanted to make money from leasing the properties, they were concerned about the impact of a development on the field of Daniel Webster School, which has 450 students. With a proposal from Sacred Heart to use it as a soccer field, however, they are hoping it will actually benefit the school.

“If they take a field and build a new field, that’s great — I’m hoping they will allow our school to use it,” said Adam Duran, a board member whose son attends Daniel Webster.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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