15 January 2012

New Olinda Elementary School Opens

After $30 million for the acquisition of the land ($8 million) from Chevron and construction ($22 million,) which began in October 2010, Olinda Elementary School has opened at its new site on Birch Avenue next to the Brea Sports Park after almost a half-century at its Olinda Village location in Carbon Canyon.

Classes began in the new facility last Monday, the 9th for 400 students, faculty and staff, although there is still further construction to do within the next couple of years and the expected peak occupancy looks to be about 450 students.

The first Olinda School, described as a prototypical one-room schoolhouse, opened in 1898 to serve children of men working in the newly-opened Olinda Oil Field.  As the community grew, a new school was opened in 1909 and operated for several decades until the diminishing oil field production and population led to its closure.

With the creation of the Olinda Village housing subdivision on the ranch formerly owned by Edward F. Gaines, a reconstituted Olinda Elementary School opened in 1964 and was a high-performing and close-knit campus.  Because of new housing in the area, such as at Olinda Ranch and the newly opened Blackstone subdivision, the Brea-Olinda Unified School District decided to relocate the school to a larger campus on former oil property.

For an article by the Orange County Register on the opening last week, click here.

As to the future of the shuttered school at Olinda Village, it is considered surplus property and the district can either readapt it to a compatible educational use, lease it or sell it.  A 7 November public hearing was conducted for public comment about the property, but, given its "remote" location, it seems unlikely to be used by the district for educational purposes and it also seems unlikely that there would be a lease opportunity, especially because the age of the campus would be an issue in either of the above cases.  More likely, the district will look to sell the property for the obvious reason of needed funds.  What also seems certain is that developers will be more than slightly interested in the land for housing.  Certainly, there will be news at some point of what the district's plans are regarding the site. 

Here is the flyer announcing the meeting with some information about the district's process in dealing with the property.

More information and photos concerning the new campus is available here on the district's Web site.

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