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Vallecitos may have area for New School

 

Last updated 12/22/2006 at Noon



When the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) was asked Monday night to pass a resolution (#13-06/07) that would exempt The New School from zoning ordinances and building codes, Superintendent Janice Schultz announced she had spoken with Vallecitos Superintendent Dr. Paul Cartas, who said two acres of land were available for The New School in Rainbow and had found a type of septic tank system that would be acceptable for use on the property. Schultz said Cartas told her that he hadn’t yet had a chance to speak with the director of The New School about it.

At the board meeting of The New School the next day (Tuesday afternoon), Cartas said, “I don’t know what Fallbrook said. Ms. Schultz called me and I told her that we can explore that two acres but there is a major septic issue. What she said at the meeting, I have no idea.”

Board members of The New School said in their Tuesday meeting that they felt the Fallbrook Elementary board had been misinformed of the situation.

“For Vallecitos to lease the [two acres] to the New School is a cumbersome process that will take a minimum of six to eight months,” Cartas said to the board. “There is a good possibility that the septic situation could be resolved, but the cost may be a factor. At this point in time, we could start the process but I doubt you’d make it in time for the next school year.”

The New School, a charter school under the Vallecitos School District, has been located within the boundaries of the FUESD for over two years at the corner of Main Avenue and Elder Street.

With the highest test scores in the Fallbrook and Bonsall area, the school has experienced growth necessitating more classroom space, which led to a modular building being placed on the property. The County of San Diego has prevented The New School from using the modular classroom by placing a “stop work” notice on it. The New School charter is under Vallecitos (Rainbow), not FUESD, but Fallbrook could exempt the charter school from county zoning ordinances and building codes when the intended use of the property is for classroom facilities within the boundaries of FUESD.

FUESD board members voted against adopting the resolution, saying the board’s attorney had advised them against it.

“We asked for our attorney’s opinion,” Schultz said. “She said we should not move forward with this due to liability issues and the fact that it would give an implied ownership of the program.”

Laura Cunningham, parent of a student at The New School, said during Public Comment, “It doesn’t cost you anything to do this and does not subject you to liability. Do you remember how cold it was this morning? My 6-year-old daughter had to sit outside to do her schoolwork.” Cunningham advised the board that the committed group of parents behind The New School could choose to “stop this charter and start a new charter school under Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, or enact Proposition 39, which would end up being a hardship on the district.” Proposition 39 allows school and community college districts and county offices of education to issue bonds for construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of facilities and to authorize property taxes higher than the existing one-percent limit to repay the bonds, if approved by a 55-percent vote rather than the current two-thirds requirement.

“I just don’t understand how [The New School’s situation] got to this point,” said FUESD board member Anne Renshaw.

At the Tuesday meeting, Cartas said his recommendation to The New School board was to “come to the Vallecitos board and request the two acres and see if they will approve it.” Sue Miller-Hurst, director of The New School, said that when the board was previously apprised of the acreage by Cartas, she and other board members investigated the septic system only to be told by County Planner Ivan Holler and other representatives of the County of San Diego that a septic system wasn’t possible on that particular property. Cartas has already scheduled a meeting with Holler for January 19 to discuss the subject property.

“I don’t care what Ivan said

or what the Health Department said; the county has no authority over Vallecitos. It is the state that oversees us,” Cartas said. “I just want to have a talk with Ivan without all the debris that has taken place. Let me see if we can begin fresh and find out how we can move forward.”

“We have to stop acting like victims,” Allen Bonaguro, a board member of The New School, said. “We have to get a clear yes or no from Vallecitos on this property.”

Cartas said he had no idea how the Vallecitos board would vote on the situation. “If it doesn’t work, then you go back to Fallbrook,” he said.

 

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