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Busy week at Sweetwater school district

Gandara released, consultant relationship dissolved…L Street property?

Jesus Gandara at his arraignment, January 13, 2012
Jesus Gandara at his arraignment, January 13, 2012

On September 5, the U-T reported that former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Jesus Gandara was released from jail on August 26. Gandara was sentenced to seven months in the county jail on June 27 for felony conspiracy and accepting gifts of travel meals and event tickets in excess of $4000.

Additionally, the U-T reported that although Gandara was released from jail, he remains in custody in an undisclosed South Bay residence. Gandara will also “forfeit more than $65,000 in retirement benefits.”

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In other Sweetwater news, on September 4, at a monthly board meeting, the district’s troubled land deals got some costly relief.

The district contracted with a consultant group, E2ManageTech, to entitle three pieces of district property for high-density development. The board voted on September 4 to dissolve the relationship and pay E2ManageTech $750,000.

The Reader queried the Sweetwater’s attorney, Randall Winet, via email, if this was a buy-out. Winet responded, “The District performed an analysis of their work performed and agreed to a payment commensurate with industry standard wages and the parties agreed to a mutual release.”

E2ManageTech was paid $82,500 for three consecutive years (2011, 2012 and 2013) to move the three district properties through design reviews, zone changes, environmental studies, and a general plan amendment.

To date, only one piece of property, located on Third Avenue, was entitled. When the property was put on the market for $7 million, there were no bids.

According to Sweetwater spokesperson Manuel Rubio, the $750,000 will not come from the general fund; rather, it will come from a “special reserve account” called Fund 40.

Rubio also indicated that the district would not solicit a new proposal for consultants until an independent analysis of the “asset property utilization plan” has been performed. The plan is the district’s proposal to dispose of district properties and purchase a new district office.

Also this week, on September 3, an announcement was sent out to all Sweetwater trustee candidates by the California Trust for Public Schools. The trust holds the title to the district’s L Street property in a complicated agreement that binds all the district’s “asset” properties together.

Because all five Sweetwater trustee seats are up for grabs in the November election, the trust will be holding an October candidate forum.

Marc Litchman, the CEO of the trust, said in a September 4 interview that one of his goals in holding the forum is to acquaint the public with the trust’s soccer academy concept for the district’s L Street property.

Litchman believes that the “highest and best use” of the L Street property is something that serves the community and students.

To that end, he announced: “In conjunction with local, state, and national soccer organizations, the nonprofit California Trust for Public Schools is developing a proposal to build a state-of-the-art soccer training and development academy with conference facilities and a charter school on surplus property owned by the Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista.”

The current asset utilization plan put forward by Sweetwater for the L Street property is the development of 869 residential mid-rise units.

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Jesus Gandara at his arraignment, January 13, 2012
Jesus Gandara at his arraignment, January 13, 2012

On September 5, the U-T reported that former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Jesus Gandara was released from jail on August 26. Gandara was sentenced to seven months in the county jail on June 27 for felony conspiracy and accepting gifts of travel meals and event tickets in excess of $4000.

Additionally, the U-T reported that although Gandara was released from jail, he remains in custody in an undisclosed South Bay residence. Gandara will also “forfeit more than $65,000 in retirement benefits.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

In other Sweetwater news, on September 4, at a monthly board meeting, the district’s troubled land deals got some costly relief.

The district contracted with a consultant group, E2ManageTech, to entitle three pieces of district property for high-density development. The board voted on September 4 to dissolve the relationship and pay E2ManageTech $750,000.

The Reader queried the Sweetwater’s attorney, Randall Winet, via email, if this was a buy-out. Winet responded, “The District performed an analysis of their work performed and agreed to a payment commensurate with industry standard wages and the parties agreed to a mutual release.”

E2ManageTech was paid $82,500 for three consecutive years (2011, 2012 and 2013) to move the three district properties through design reviews, zone changes, environmental studies, and a general plan amendment.

To date, only one piece of property, located on Third Avenue, was entitled. When the property was put on the market for $7 million, there were no bids.

According to Sweetwater spokesperson Manuel Rubio, the $750,000 will not come from the general fund; rather, it will come from a “special reserve account” called Fund 40.

Rubio also indicated that the district would not solicit a new proposal for consultants until an independent analysis of the “asset property utilization plan” has been performed. The plan is the district’s proposal to dispose of district properties and purchase a new district office.

Also this week, on September 3, an announcement was sent out to all Sweetwater trustee candidates by the California Trust for Public Schools. The trust holds the title to the district’s L Street property in a complicated agreement that binds all the district’s “asset” properties together.

Because all five Sweetwater trustee seats are up for grabs in the November election, the trust will be holding an October candidate forum.

Marc Litchman, the CEO of the trust, said in a September 4 interview that one of his goals in holding the forum is to acquaint the public with the trust’s soccer academy concept for the district’s L Street property.

Litchman believes that the “highest and best use” of the L Street property is something that serves the community and students.

To that end, he announced: “In conjunction with local, state, and national soccer organizations, the nonprofit California Trust for Public Schools is developing a proposal to build a state-of-the-art soccer training and development academy with conference facilities and a charter school on surplus property owned by the Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista.”

The current asset utilization plan put forward by Sweetwater for the L Street property is the development of 869 residential mid-rise units.

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