CUSD Board moves forward with sales marketing agreement for Whitney property | News


Carpinteria Unified School District Board directed staff to move forward with a listing agreement with Berkshire Hathaway for the marketing of the district’s Whitney property, a vacant 6.84-acre parcel that the district has owned since 1955. The direction was given at their April 27 regular board meeting. 

CUSD legal counsel Lauren Rode explained that the property will have an estimated listing price of $1,325,000, should the board decide to move forward with selling the property in the fall. Rode said the property is zoned for a single property structure.

“(Preliminary marketing means) getting all of the preparation work out of the way so we’re not jammed doing it all within 30 or 60 days in the fall,” Rode said. 

She clarified that even though the board has not yet formally decided whether to sell the property, the board must take several prerequisite steps before choosing whether to sell the property, including notifying the city; the county; the Regents of the University of California; and the Trustees of the California State University, among others. 

Rode said the state agencies have 60 days from when they first receive notice of the district’s intent to sell to make an offer. 

The property is currently occupied by Sweet Wheel Farm & Flowers, an agricultural company, with a lease that will end on Nov. 12, 2021. 

Leslie Person Ryan, who said she is one of the current leasers of the property for agricultural purposes, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. She said the farm has started a Save the Summerland Farms campaign to urge the district to let them purchase the property or extend the lease. 

“We are trying to solve the food desert,” she said. “We are very interested in purchasing the property … Why are we not working together to save this as a very important resource for all children in Summerland?” 

“We farm organically; we do non-GMO seeds; we have multiple crops up there; we have lima beans; oats, wheat; we have our corn,” she said. 


New leadership members at CUSD

Veronica Gallardo, a current Kindergarten teacher, is the Aliso and Summerland schools new principal, CUSD Superintendent Diana Rigby announced during the April 27 CUSD board meeting. Ricardo Cota, a Santa Barbara resident and veteran, was named as the new Carpinteria Middle School assistant principal. 

Cota, who grew up in Ventura, currently works as the assistant principal at the De Anza Academy of Technology & Arts Middle School in Ventura. He earned a BA degree in History at CSU Channel Islands and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at California Lutheran University. 

“He taught multiple subjects for five years at Isbell Middle School in Santa Paula,” Rigby said. “His favorite subject is History, with an emphasis in early California. Ricardo resides in Santa Barbara with his wife and daughter, and he is an avid Dodger and Lakers fan.”

Gallardo currently teaches Kindergarten at the Roosevelt School in Santa Barbara, and has spent the past 10 years teaching primary grades. She attended Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara, where she received an English Literature Degree.

Gallardo has also served as an SBCC trustee since 2012 and currently resides in Santa Barbara. 

“Growing up in a family of seven children, Veronica’s parents raised her in a bilingual home where they taught her and her siblings how to speak fluently in Spanish, a benefit that carried into her personal and professional career,” Rigby said.


Two Measure U staff retire 

Cindy Abbott, CUSD’s Measure U facilities coordinator, and David Weniger, Measure U director, are resigning and retiring from their roles on the Measure U project, Rigby announced. 

“We thank them for their service during the Measure U projects,” Rigby said. 

CUSD is looking for a construction manager and staff accountants. Asst. Superintendent Maureen Fitzgerald will take over leading the Measure U projects at this time. 

Rigby also announced that the remodeling of the CHS Gym is “near completion” and that all summer projects – the Aliso School modernization, the building of the CHS administration building, the Summerland School rebuilding and the Main exterior painting project – are “on schedule and will begin in June and July.” 

Measure U staff faced concerns during the board’s previous meeting over fluctuations in the Summerland School rebuilding budget. As discussed at the last meeting, the project was previously estimated at $5.6 million in January 2021, versus the now estimated $6.6 million. 

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