The Bonsall Unified School District's (BUSD) board
has been split 3/2 on moving forward on yet another attempt to build a huge high school in Fallbrook's Gird Valley. Board members Timothy Coen, Erin English (recently resigned) and Lou Riddle have voted as a block in favor of building while Sylvia Tucker and Dick Olson are concerned the small district cannot afford to build a second high school after just completing one in 2016 and that the district faces strong community opposition to building a high school in Gird Valley and will be unable to pass the bond required to pay for it.
Fallbrook Union High School failed to pass a bond to fund a similar folly four times and BUSD has now failed once (Measure DD, 2016). At BUSD's board meeting in January, a contract was presented to move a bond forward in 2018, Attempt #6 to build a massive 1,500-student high school in Gird Valley.
Tucker and Olson urged the board to proceed with caution, to start by talking with district residents. As a result, the board approved a telephone survey of 400 voters in the district.
So, in the next week or two, you might get a call from a pollster working on behalf of BUSD.
If you do, let them know:
- No bond for more building until BUSD gets its financial house in order and commits to a site the community supports (clearly not one in Gird Valley)!
- A Walmart-sized school is in conflict with the community's wishes and local planning because the site on Gird Road is:
- designated surplus and should be sold/traded as was previously decided
- not supported for a high school site in Fallbrook's Community Plan
- located in a residential area in slow-growth Fallbrook
- zoned for low-density housing (2+ acre lots)
- adjacent to a North County golf course/wedding/events venue just south of Monserate Winery's vineyard and Live Oak Park
- located within the County's San Luis Rey River Valley Park and Multiple Species Conservation Program Plan areas
- has lost at the ballot box fully 5 times!
Should BUSD's pollsters call you, tell them: "I oppose Attempt #6 to build a Bonsall high school in Fallbrook's Gird Valley!"
We don't know what the survey questions are but h
are the Top Ten Questions we'd LOVE a pollster to ask (but we live in the real world and it's never gonna happen!):
1) Do you feel that Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD, a district in its seventh year of deficit spending (Item 9.6)
should be trusted to build a Walmart-sized high school for 1,500 that will ultimately cost taxpayers $70 to $100+ million (plus the same again for financing costs)?
"The District has been deficit spending since the 2011/12 fiscal year...; this structural imbalance of revenues versus expenses ... is an unsustainable trend. ...
The multi-year projections show the District ending the 2019/20 fiscal year with an ending balance available for reserves of 0.4%, far below the legally required 3%."
BUSD 2017 presentation.
2) In 2012 when BUSD expanded to include a high school (unification)
it skipped the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process because it promised it would build nothing and could accommodate up to 600 high school students in its existing facilities. (Current high school enrollment is 328.) BUSD said:
"We do not want, nor do we need a massive brick and mortar high school ......Nor do we need fifty acres of dirt to accomplish our mission."
In 2016, BUSD borrowed millions and built a 350-student high school in Bonsall then attempted to pass a bond (failed Measure DD) to build another high school for 1,500 students in Fallbrook. In February 2018, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, BUSD released, for a 45-day public comment period, a Draft Environmental Impact Report for this project, once again proposed for Gird Road.
The proposed facility would be inconveniently located at the northern end of the district in Fallbrook, which already has a large high school located less than 5 miles from the proposed site in Gird Valley. Does it anger you to know
that, as part of its unification process, BUSD said it did not need to build anything at all and that BUSD ignored the advice of the state and county departments of education which advised BUSD sell the Gird Road site and, should they ever build in the future, to build within the Bonsall core area, not in Fallbrook?
3) In 2016, Measure B, allowing the 1,700-unit Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) development to bypass the County General Plan, was actively promoted by BUSD's Superintendent and, in return, LHR financially supported BUSD's Measure DD to build a huge high school and arts center in Gird Valley.
Both measures lost at the ballot box
. At the same time, several failing golf courses were lost to developers who
were also circling Fallbrook Golf Course in the heart of Gird Valley. Community activism and local buyers saved this land (116 acres) and it is being transformed into Monserate Winery and vineyard, to be protected forever from development via conservation easements. In light of North County's commitment to slow growth and its love for Gird Valley, do you support BUSD attempting again to build a huge facility (155,000 sq. ft of buildings, 200,000 sq. ft. of parking) right next door to the Golf Club of California, in beautiful rural and residential Gird Valley, an historical area in slow growth Fallbrook?
4) A few weeks after Measure DD lost at the ballot box, BUSD signed a contract to borrow money from a school construction company (payments of $300,000 a month, 14.6% interest) to place temporary high school buildings on Gird Road. (A community-supported lawsuit forced BUSD to cancel the agreement.) Do you feel this was a financially unsound attempt by BUSD to bypass the will of the voters?
5) The community of Fallbrook has built its own very large high school for thousands of students and passed a bond to maintain it (Measure AA $45M, 2016). Enrollment at this high school is down 20%. Fallbrook's Community Plan does not support a second high school and voters have rejected attempts to build a high school in Gird Valley five times at the ballot box. In light of these facts, do you oppose BUSD's attempts to build a huge Bonsall high school n Fallbrook's Gird Valley?
6) The Gird Valley site is an untouched parcel with stunning views of Monserate Hill located next door to a golf course and Live Oak Creek. The site has over 16 acres of federally-designated critical habitat for the endangered arroyo toad, plus burrowing owl burrows, nesting least Bell's vireos and more. It is located just south of Monserate Winery's vineyards, Fallbrook Land Conservancy's Gird Valley preserve and Live Oak Park. It lies within the County's San Luis Rey River Valley Park area and North County's Multiple Species Conservation Program Plan area. Knowing this, do you think the Gird Valley site should be preserved ?
7) The Gird Road site, acquired in 1997 for $170,000, triggers a State $50,000 unused school site fee annually ($1.7M in total penalties to the school district holding the site since the fee was established in 1984). Add in hundreds of thousands in costs for studies, legal fees and five failed bond campaigns and there is no end in sight. The Great Gird Money Pit was designated as school surplus in 2011 and could be traded for a better site, sold to low-density developers or sold for habitat mitigation. Knowing all this, d
o you support following the
County and State's recommendation during BUSD's unification process in 2011 to sell or trade the Gird Valley site in Fallbrook and build when needed in a more convenient location in Bonsall's core area?
8) BUSD currently has only 328 high school students and its K-3 enrollment figures are dropping. Meanwhile Fallbrook Union High School's enrollment is down 20%. T
axpayers have built and fund the daily operations of
32 high schools in the area, plus online and home schooling options (along with another 15 privately-funded high schools)
Ocean Breeze Farms (OB) has offered land to BUSD, no money down. The OB parcel is located adjacent to BUSD's Sullivan Campus (where BUSD's finished building a brand new state-of-the-art high tech high school for 350 in 2016). Traffic and parking are issues at the Sullivan Campus but BUSD does not run a carpool program and ignores the fact that a high school in Gird Valley will increase traffic on Gird Road by 61% to 66%. Do you support BUSD being a good neighbor and initiating a carpool program across the entire district, while working with the County to improve roads and traffic flow, expanding as needed onto the Ocean Breeze property located next door to the Sullivan Campus in Bonsall?
9) Out of five BUSD board seats, three are up for election this fall (Timothy Coen, Lou Riddle and Sylvia Tucker) and board member Erin English recently resigned and was replaced March 8 by Eric Ortega. That is four seats up for election in November. If you believe it is time to change BUSD's board, are you a slow growth advocate who would like to run for the BUSD board in 2018?
10) It took SaveGirdValley.com volunteers over six months to get BUSD to correct its TransparentCalifornia.com salary info. Its controversial pro-growth, pro-Lilac Hills Ranch Superintendent Justin Cunningham (who signed a $170,000+ benefits contract in 2015 and retired in 2017 with a pension valued at 80-85% of his base pay)
in salary and benefits in 2016
, more than the Governor of California. With BUSD running seven years of deficits, does this lack of fiscal prudence and transparency bother you?
That's our Top Ten. Do you have any questions to suggest? We'd like to hear them!
If you love North County, are a slow/smart growth advocate who objects to
school sprawl triggering urban sprawl
, and are considering running for the BUSD Board in the Fall of 2018, we'd like to hear from you!
Steering Committee Member
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SAVE GIRD VALLEY:
Protect Fallbrook's rural character! Gird Valley looking south to Monserate Hill
and the San Luis Rey River Valley. April 2017