The Planning and Development Department is charged with the critical task of evaluating the need for new schools and where a need is identified, siting the schools. This complex task is based on an ongoing analysis of RUSDs demographics, including projecting growth in the population of school age children from kindergarten through high school.
Where there is a need for a new school identified, the lengthy process of school siting begins. The first consideration is acquiring a safe school site that is conveniently located to serve the growth in population, while fitting in with RUSDs existing inventory of school facilities. An important part of this work is the review and adjustment of school attendance areas.
When a site has been identified, the first step is to begin acquisition including conducting a Preliminary Environmental Assessment, often concurrently with purchase of the site. Additional environmental approvals usually include an Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act, a process that evaluates the environmental impact of any new schools including impacts to traffic, noise, air quality, and environmental resources such as sensitive plant and animal species.
Architectural design of the new facility is a complex process that requires approvals at the local and state levels including the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the California Department of Education, the Division of the State Architect, and the Office of Public School Construction. In addition to design, the approval and participation of many state agencies is necessary in order for RUSD to obtain all of the funding it is entitled to receive from state agencies. Planning and Development coordinates the design team process.
Local financing strategies are also a part of the process with RUSD conducting a School Facility Needs Analysis where new school facilities are the result of new development, a process that can include Developer Fees and revenues from sources such as Communities Facilities District bonds.
When the facility plan, including design is approved and financing is in place, the Planning and Development Department remains an important resource on the team for the new construction.