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Hart district examines dissolving facilities foundation

Posted: May 17, 2013 6:06 p.m.
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:06 p.m.

With no new schools planned for the foreseeable future, the Hart district is taking steps to shutter the nonprofit foundation set up to manage land purchases and development, according to officials.

Members of the William S. Hart Union High School District board voted 3-1 this week to transfer all assets, including land and cash on hand, from the Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation to the district, a move board President Joe Messina said Friday would likely lead to the dissolution of the foundation itself.

“Frankly, because it would have no assets, the best thing to do would be for it to shut down,” said Messina, who as school board president also sits on the Facilities Foundation board of directors.

Both Messina and district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said the foundation, which helped acquire and develop land to build Golden Valley High School, has outlived its useful life.

“It served a purpose, and that purpose is no longer needed,” Pinsker said of the foundation. “There is no projection for the foundation to develop and purchase land for future sites.”

The current economic climate also is an impediment to any development at this time, according to Messina.
“Right now it’s just not the right time,” he said.

The Facilities Foundation was created in 1998 as a private, nonprofit public benefit corporation designed to help locate, acquire and develop land for the Hart district, according to Rick Patterson, president of the foundation’s board.

Patterson also said Friday he had not received official notice that the board wished to dissolve the foundation.

Much of the land that had been purchased for the district by the foundation had already been transferred to the district, Pinsker said, as the district does not have to pay property taxes on the land it holds, while the foundation does.

Members of the district board voted Wednesday night to transfer two additional land parcels — 70 acres located at the intersection of Hasley Canyon and Sloan Canyon roads in Castaic and approximately 22 acres near Golden Valley Road and Sierra Highway — from the foundation to the district.

Doing so will save approximately $50,000 a year in taxes on the properties, Pinsker said.

“It does not make any sense to continue to have that property being taxed,” she said.

The district will likely consider selling that land in the future when the market improves, Pinsker said.

Because the Facilities Foundation is a private corporation, any decision on asset transfer or eventual dissolution would have to be initiated by the foundation’s board of directors, Patterson said.

But Messina said the foundation’s mission as a public benefit corporation means it would likely cooperate with the district’s wishes.

“If you look at their charter, at their mission statement, they were created to be an asset to the district and to move on behalf of the district,” Messina said. “And right now there’s money and assets there that will dwindle before they can do anything with it.”

Even if the foundation is dissolved, it can always be reformed at a later date should the need arise, Messina said.
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