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A Tale of Two School Districts

Gird Valley painting, courtesy of  Mijoa Rho.

As part of a 2012 reorganization of school districts, Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) transferred a surplus site on Gird Road (which it had decla red a s "unsuitable" for a high school) to the newly formed Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD). I t is important to note that FUHSD lost four bond measures to fund building on that particular site before it passed into BUSD's ownership. Clearly the community was united in its opposition to a school in historic and much-loved Gird Valley. In November of 2016, BUSD would lose the fifth attempt. 
 
BUSD made various statements about the site over the years, ranging from building a small school of a few hundred students to selling or trading the property. 

In 2016, BUSD announced it would build a beautiful $56M to $70M state-of-the-art permanent high school and would pass a bond measure to do so (Measure DD on the Fall 2016 ballot). The school would serve 1,500 students, 60 teachers plus administrators, staff and parents. Its recreational facilities and performing arts center would be open after hours to the public. 

Beyond North County residents who have proven they are strongly opposed to a high school on Gird Road, parents with children enrolled at BUSD's Sullivan Middle School campus (located 8 miles to the south) expressed dislike for the location. 

BUSD stated its proposed high school/performing arts center development would consist of 150,000 sq. ft. of buildings plus 190,000 sq. ft. of parking, another 10,000 sq. ft. of bus parking, plus night lighting. The project, we are told, would impact approximately 24.6 of the 48-acre Gird Road site.

A detailed project description states:

The Bonsall High School plus Performing Arts Center would provide educational facilities for grades 9- 12 with a maximum enrollment of 1,500 students. An estimated 50-60 teachers, aides, administrators, and other personnel would staff the high school at maximum capacity. The proposed project build out would result in approximately 140,000 - 150,000 square feet (sf) of building area, which would include permanent classroom facilities, administrative offices, media centers, and the Performing Arts Center. Recreational fields and facilities which will include community use are also proposed. The school site will also provide access to dance, band, exercise, and physical educational programs using the on-site fields.

The proposed facilities and approximate building areas are provided below:
  • Performing Arts Center Theater/Music Classroom-33,500 to 16,000 sf
  • Administration-6,750 sf
  • Classrooms-48,500 sf to 28,000 sf each, 84,000 sf total
  • Media Centers/Library - 5,760 sf 6,500 sf
  • Food Services and Multipurpose Dining-10,000 sf 11,000 sf
  • Recreational fields-19.8 Acres
  • Parking Lot/hardscapes (approx 500 parking spaces)-190,000 sf
  • Bus Parking (5-8 bus spaces)-10,000 sf
  • Gymnasium, lockers and support functions-19,500 to 25,000 sf
  • Separate exercise rooms (part of the proposed gym)-3,000 sf
In addition, a parking area for school buses would be included on the project site, contiguous to staff and student parking areas within appropriate portion of the school site for this purpose. Initially, it is anticipated that four (4) buses would use this parking area. Capacity would be provided for up to twelve (12) for special events or future busing needs.  The recreational fields, Performing Arts Center, and other school buildings would be available for community use after school hours, weekends, and holidays. Security lighting of the building complex and parking areas is planned. Night lighting of the hard court surfaces is being considered.

At an estimated cost of $56M to $70M, this would be the largest development ever in Gird Valley, possibly in all of Fallbrook. It deserves a closer look by everyone involved, especially since any high school on Gird Road is a very unpopular project. 

Measure DD failed passage in the fall of 2016, marking fully five separate bond measures to build a high school on Gird Road that have been rejected by the voters at the ballot box!

Beyond the taxpayers who ultimately pay for all this, there are various agencies with jurisdiction over segments of this proposed project. These include  San Diego County, t he California Department of Education (CDE), the State's  California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), of General Services' (DGS) Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) along with its Division of the State Architect's (DSA) office.

With all these agencies watching out for the public good and with BUSD ensuring us of their commitment to quality and community, one would think we could be assured of a quality project for the school children if,  not when, we actually ever build on the Gird Road site.

Think again.

On December 8, 2016, just after its $58M bond funding Measure DD failed at the ballot box in November, the BUSD Board approved a $20M construction/financing contract that would have placed temporary portable buildings on the Gird Road site! Add in builder-provided financing and BUSD had committed to paying $45M (with $44M of that due within 12.25 years with monthly payments of $300,000) for temporary buildings that would have to be removed and replaced in a few years!

Only concerned North County residents and a lawsuit by public advocacy group CalTAN.org stopped this tragedy from happening.


Fallbrook residents give a thumbs down to a 1500-student Bonsall High School on Gird Valley's hills. 
Proposed building site with Monserate Hill in the background. March 10, 2017. Photo Peter Kunasz  

Because a high school is forever, the choice of the correct site, and what is built thereon, is a community-changing event.

For this reason and to   assist you, we have compiled an historical backgrounder, complete with hyperlinked resource documents. We are calling it: 
 
We hope you find it useful and w e encourage everyone who loves North County, our beautiful Gird Valley and our school children, to engage on this issue. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sincerely,

Teresa Platt
Steering Committee Member
   

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SAVE GIRD VALLEY:  
  • Join us for a meeting March 14, 6 PM, 2915 Lakemont Drive!
  • Visit our website, urge your friends to sign up for emails. 
  • Volunteer your time for our projects and/or donate to help with expenses.
  • Add comments to news articles about Gird Valley. Keep the discussion going!

Protect Fallbrook's rural character!
A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who worked in 2016 to save Gird Valley! We look forward to working with you in 2017 and beyond!  

JOIN US FOR A MEETING MARCH 14, 6 PM
2915 LAKEMONT DRIVE, FALLBROOK. Thank you!