Irvine School District Comes to Agreement With Developer

The Irvine Unified School District and FivePoint Communities have agreed on new school construction, ending an ongoing behind-the-scenes dispute over funding new schools in the Great Parks Neighborhoods development.

The agreement will help the district accommodate new students from the residential development.

Under the agreement, Heritage Fields, which is managed by FivePoint Communities, and the Irvine Co. would share the cost of building a high school, according to school board trustees. FivePoint Communities would also build an unspecified number of elementary schools in Great Park Neighborhoods, trustees said.

School board Chairwoman Sue Kuwabara said she was satisfied with the agreement.

The district’s schools “have been built pretty much by the Irvine Co.,” Kuwabara said. “It’s different for us — it’s definitely different — but it looks like it’s going to work OK.”

School district trustees were at first critical of the developer for using a special-tax district to build backbone infrastructure but not new schools.

School district officials were worried that without the special-tax revenue, the district wouldn’t have enough money to build “Irvine quality” schools. A source close to FivePoint had said that the school district was inflating its enrollment estimates and thus overstating the number of new schools needed.

Both sides now appear to have reached consensus. School board trustees say the terms of the agreement allow the school district to draft the specifications for the high school, allaying concerns that the developer might skimp on the project.