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City of Tustin and TUSD Approve Plan for Tustin Legacy Schools

The City of Tustin and Tustin Unified School District have approved an $85 million plan to build a middle and high school, and begin the process of opening Heritage Elementary School for the 2016-17 school year.

The Tustin Legacy School Facilities Project was approved by the TUSD Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday, August 24, and by the Tustin City Council at a special meeting on Tuesday, August 25. The project involves the proposed future construction of school facilities to serve the residential development to be constructed on property within the Legacy area.

"We’re very pleased to partner with the City of Tustin to provide excellent schools to the residents of Tustin Legacy," TUSD Board President Francine Scinto said.

The District has worked with the City to complete a mitigation agreement to provide the financing of the needed school facilities. The mitigation agreement is comprised of three separate agreements: the mitigation agreement which includes the School Facilities Implementation, Funding and Mitigation Agreement; Joint Community Facilities Agreement; and the Site Conveyance Agreement. These three agreements were approved by the Board and the City to provide for the transfer of a 40-acre site to TUSD and the financing of a future 6-12 school facility to be constructed on the site.

At its August 24 meeting, the school board voted to initiate a new Community Facilities District No. 15-2, which will provide for the financing of the school facilities for the Tustin Legacy School Facilities Project. This action started the process allowing the District to begin the planning and design for the future middle/high school facilities.

The agreement calls for the City to advance $4 million to the District for the initial planning and design work for the school facilities. With that advance, TUSD will open Heritage Elementary School in fall 2016. Once the state gives final approval for the design, the City will consider advancing additional funds as needed to construct all or part of the facility project.

"I want to recognize the Board and City Council for their vision of providing for the education of current and future Legacy residents," TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gregory Franklin said. "The agreements and resolutions approved by the Board and City Council were very complex and took extensive time and energy to construct."

TUSD will select an architect and plans to start construction in approximately 24 months, according to TUSD Chief Financial Officer Tony Soria.

Nearly half of the $85 million will come from city contributions and developer fees. The other half will come from bonds financed through a community facilities or Mello-Roos district for future Tustin Legacy homes.

"Good things are happening in Tustin!" exclaimed Mayor Chuck Puckett. "I am extremely pleased that both the TUSD School Board and the City Council unanimously approved the foundation for development and opening of the schools in Tustin Legacy. With the opening of Heritage Elementary in 2016 and the future construction of the 6-12 middle and high schools, we are committed to meeting the needs of our citizens and enhancing our community."