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City selling site of CUSD office

The Lawrence Street parcel on which the Ceres Unified School District headquarters sits has belonged to the city of Ceres. An action taken by the Ceres City Council on Jan. 26, however, sets in motion the sale of the land to CUSD for a mere buck.

The fact that the city owned the property and was leasing it to the school district was recent news to Toby Wells who became city manager last year. He's not even sure how long the city has owned it.

"We didn't go back into the history because it wasn't relevant to the transaction," said Wells.

The city has been leasing the land to CUSD for $1 on a 50-year agreement. The lease agreement was written to allow CUSD to buy it for $1 if it decided to do so. At the joint city-CUSD meeting of Nov. 20, CUSD officials expressed an interest in owning the site rather than leasing it.

Apparently the lease was supposed to be reviewed every 10 years but the last time was in 1991 when Richard McBride was mayor, said Wells. Reviews were missed in 2001 and 2011.

The current brick building was a replacement to the building that was destroyed by fire in 1991. The building was formerly the Whitmore Elementary School erected in 1930.

CUSD must pay all the closing fees, said Wells.
Ownership between either party "makes very little difference in the grand scheme of things" said Wells because the city does not pay property taxes nor will it make any money on the sale of the property.