Thank you to everyone who attended the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Workshop on September 30th and the Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) Board meeting on October 12.
We learned a lot at the CEQA Workshop, hosted by environmental attorney Kevin Johnson and the
Planning and Conservation League
(PCL). In 1965, a group of concerned citizens formed PCL "to protect California from the destruction caused by fast-paced and poorly planned developments", a worthy goal. For over 50 years, PCL has worked to "safeguard our lands, air, waters, and communities, while building strong coalitions and empowering the public." Thank you to Kevin and PCL for sharing so much information!
We learned that CEQA, which generates the Environmental Review Process (EIR), pushes citizens, developers and public agencies to engage in a community brain storming process. It forces us all to mitigate damage caused by development and to explore alternatives fully.
DEADLINE OCTOBER 31:
Along these lines, BUSD has established a Superintendent's district-wide
Site Advisory Committee
to review options for school expansion. This is a great opportunity for community members to help build the perfect school in the perfect location! Please review the details ASAP since volunteers need to submit their applications by October 31!
MEETING NOVEMBER 9:
You'll definitely want to attend BUSD's Board meeting on November 9th. At this meeting, political experts will advise the Board about the bond measure process for financing school construction. It is expected that BUSD will attempt another school bond in 2018.
The parcel BUSD currently owns and proposes for a high school site is located not in Bonsall but in Fallbrook (which already has a large high school).
Located north of Highway 76, it's a long commute for most BUSD residents, teachers and staff to the Gird Road site in Fallbrook. Interestingly, the site has never been designated as an official school site. Its previous owner (Fallbrook Union High School District) declared it surplus and was about to sell it just before BUSD completed its unification process (expansion to include a high school) and the asset was transferred to BUSD ownership.
During that unification process, State and County education agencies recommended BUSD sell the Gird Road site and find a more suitable location.
At this point, BUSD made a huge misstep.
BUSD ignored this advice, along with decades of community opposition to the Gird Road property as a school site. The paint was barely dry on a brand new state-of-the-art 18,000 sq. ft. high school on Lilac Road in Bonsall when BUSD announced in the Fall of 2016 that it wanted to pass a bond to finance construction of
another high school. This one would be in Fallbrook, not Bonsall, and it would be a massive 1,500-student high school with a performing arts center (150,000 sq. ft. of buildings plus 200,000 sq. ft. of parking). With financing costs factored in, the project was estimated to cost over $100 million and would be the largest development Fallbrook had ever seen!
Predictably, this November 2016 bond measure failed to pass, marking
the fifth time
the community has rejected a high school in Gird Valley. But BUSD ignored this history and entered into a
contract in December 2016 to borrow
the money from the contractor and move forward with plans to build the school on Gird Road. Payments were $300,000 a month with an interest rate of 14.6%!
It was at this point that t
he community organized and founded
. A lawsuit forced BUSD to cancel the contract and review the situation. Shortly after, the Superintendent retired and BUSD began the slow process of repairing community relationships and studying the issue in detail. While BUSD has been deficit spending for six years, there is no capacity crisis at BUSD schools so BUSD has time to get its finances under control and locate a suitable building site. With a new Superintendent in place and new energy on campus, district residents are hopeful we're back on the right track.
In the meantime, if you haven't made a visit to Gird Valley, you should. It is one of San Diego County's hidden gems.
Gird Road site,
Assessor's Parcel Number 124-340-34-00
is 50 elevated acres located
at the southern end of Gird Valley. You'll spot it as you drive by. It's the land on the western side of Gird Road with the new unsightly barbed wire fence and the No Trespassing signs.
Gird Road, a quiet two-lane country road (a County-designated scenic corridor) loved by generations, winds through Gird Valley, the founding location of Fallbrook.
Please take the time to review these important issues. Spread the word. Come to the meetings, volunteer, help with expenses. Your involvement is what will help build the perfect school in the perfect location, while saving beautiful Gird Valley for all of us, and for future generations, to enjoy!