WALNUT CREEK -- With hundreds of apartments set to be built in this city over the next five years, the Walnut Creek School District board voted Monday to more than double the fee the district charges developers on new housing.
But even with the increase, the district will be about $2 million short of the estimated $5 million needed to handle the expected influx of students from housing projects already planned.
The board raised the developers' fee from $1.20 per square foot for residential construction to $3.20 per square foot -- the maximum amount the state allows districts to charge. The fees must be used to build school facilities for the increased enrollment caused by new development.
"Given that the city has informed us of a couple of thousand units in the approval pipeline, it seems appropriate," said board member Art Clarke on Monday.
The city anticipates at least 1,500 apartment units will be built over the next few years, many of them are centered near downtown -- within the school district's boundaries.
The district looks at the fees every five years and uses a state average formula -- and not actual information about building in Walnut Creek -- to determine what the impact may be from new development, said Kevin Collins, district chief business official.
The district does not have "excess facilities" now and it's already important to keep class sizes small to meet state class-size reduction targets, Collins
A report done for the district to examine developer fees projects an increase of 313 students over the next five years, given that a state-applied formula projects about 625 new apartment units during that time. But in reality, Walnut Creek plans for nearly double that amount.
Other nearby school districts, including Moraga, Lafayette and Orinda, may be looking at upping their development fees as well, said school officials. But Walnut Creek seems to have the most development coming forward, said Superintendent Patty Wool.
Another change in the fees: the district will no longer be able to charge 33 cents per square foot development for commercial building because the fee report shows the district isn't justified in doing so.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.