SILVERADO – Orange Unified trustees have approved a plan to sell off the site of the former Silverado Elementary School, a campus the district shuttered three years ago amid protests from the parents in the canyon community.
The 10-acre site on Santiago Canyon Road will be put up on the market in coming weeks.
"It's really not practical for us to continue holding on to the land," Trustee Diane Singer said. "The canyon community was saddened by the closure of the school. But we have to move on."
Trustees unanimously approved the action at their Thursday night meeting.
The site could eventually be sold to the county, which would use it as a municipal yard, or staging area for firefighters, Singer said. Some estimates have the land valued at $2 million. The land is currently zoned for a school.
Officials have said they would use proceeds from the sale to support renovations at campuses across Orange Unified.
The district has also considered selling off the former site of Riverdale Elementary, an Anaheim Hills campus that closed in 2010. Trustees could vote later on whether to sell that property.
Silverado Elementary's closure three years ago prompted a bitter fight between campus parents and Orange Unified. Trustees voted to close the campus to help erase a budget deficit. Dozens of angry parents packed school board meetings and picketed outside district offices in protest. The parents also started petition drives and letter-writing campaigns.
At the time, Silverado served as the only school for the canyon community. About 73 students were enrolled in 2009. But district officials said they could not afford to keep the school open for such a small group of students. Closing Silverado saved the district $263,000 annually.
The Silverado parents then worked to open a charter school on the site of the campus, but failed to secure the necessary funding. They then mounted an unsuccessful campaign to redistrict the canyon community into adjacent Saddleback Valley Unified in hopes that officials there would reopen the campus.
Students in Silverado now are bused eight miles to Chapman Hills Elementary.
"A sale of the property will finally mark a sad end for the once-beloved school," said Megan Smith, a former Silverado parent. "A lot of people worked really hard to keep Silverado Elementary open."
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