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Re: BUSD is at it again (Village News guest editorial, 2/1/2018)


Last updated 3/5/2018 at 2:23pm

Thank you for taking time to read the following information related to the Bonsall Unified School District.

Mr. Peter Kunasz recently wrote a guest editorial in the Village News which included a great deal of information that is not accurate. As superintendent of the school district, it is an important part of my responsibility to ensure we are communicating facts and the current reality of the school district.

The information below will assist in correcting Mr. Kunasz' statements so that our community receives accurate, factual information about the Bonsall Unified School District.

In regards to Mr. Kunasz' statement, “In 2016, measure DD, the $58 million grab to build a new 'palace' high school on Gird for 330 (present day) students failed – again.”

The above statement is not accurate. In 2012 the Bonsall schools’ community voted to become a unified school district, meaning the district began serving students in grades K-12. Bonsall High School has approximately 330 students and is projected to grow to approximately 700 students in the next four years. The middle and high schools currently share the same campus and will not be able to occupy the projected enrollment with the existing facilities. It is necessary to expand our facilities and build a separate high school campus to accommodate our growing population. The 2016 bond was the one, and only, attempt for this purpose. Mr. Kunasz' statement “again” is not accurate.

In regards to Mr. Kunasz' statement, “But BUSD’s projections are highly inflated."

The above statement is not accurate. There are approximately 2,500 students in the district, and we are estimated to grow to over 3,300 students in the next four years. Source: Demographic cohort survival methodology.

There are five school sites within the BUSD attendance boundaries (approximately 88 square miles): Bonsall High School (9-12), Sullivan Middle School (6-8), Bonsall Elementary (TK-5), Bonsall West Elementary (TK-6), and Vivian Banks Charter School (K-5).

Several housing developments (estimated 709 homes) are bringing families into the district and will contribute to growth in the student population: S.L. Rey Residences, Pala Mesa Highlands, Meadowood. While some have already begun, all residential projects are expected to be complete between 2018 and 2022.

In regards to Mr. Kunasz' statement, “Other potential sites are not considered, and a large parcel called Ocean Breeze that is contiguous to the existing Sullivan campus, and which they can obtain for no cash, only future builder’s credits, is shunned and unfairly degraded.”

The above statement is not accurate. The Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC) utilized a local real estate agent to research all land (matching criteria for a school site) within the Bonsall Unified School District. Even though potential sites were not listed on the market for sale, the committee did its due diligence and rated five sites where a school could be built. Using the same forms and ranking system as the California Department of Education, the committee offered its analysis: Gird Road received a ranking of 91 percent and was recommended by the SAC as the preferred site. The property in second place, located on Old River Road, received a 78 percent. Ocean Breeze was one of the sites compared and received a rating of 75 percent.

Additionally, in the interest of student and staff safety, it is critical to note the Ocean Breeze land sits adjacent to Sullivan Middle School on West Lilac Road. During the 2017 Lilac Fire, in addition to many residents, roughly 1,000 students and staff were evacuated from the middle school and high school site. As the last person to leave the campus, I felt very, very fortunate we were able to evacuate all students to safety. If we were to build a permanent high school at this site, as the student population grows our students could be placed in a very unnecessary and dangerous situation the next time there is a fire.

In regards to Mr. Kunasz' statements, "Of course the new 'Committee' is made up of people hand-picked by the administration, and many have either publicly voiced strong approval of Gird, have financial ties to the District or are actually employed by the District."

"Anyone who has publicly voiced objections to Gird Road is rejected.”

The above statements are not accurate. The Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC) was developed in the following manner: The school district was divided into six geographical areas. An application process took place, and anyone living within the attendance boundaries of BUSD was eligible to apply to serve. All applications were reviewed by the Governing Board of Trustees. Each board member selected their top two applicants from each of the six areas. The applicants receiving the most board member votes in each geographic region were placed on the committee.

The following staff members also serve on the committee: assistant superintendent, William Pickering; high school principal, Lee Fleming; middle school teacher and union president, Julie Urquhart. As superintendent, I was responsible for organizing and facilitating the meetings and did not act as a voting member of the committee.

Regarding Mr. Kunasz’ second statement, before being selected for the SAC, no less than two members openly expressed their opposition to the Gird Road site. After all identified properties were ranked and evaluated, these two SAC committee members, during a public board meeting, stated they once objected to Gird Road as the best site for the high school. Both individuals now conclude that Gird Road is the best site to build.

Lastly, I would like to invite the community to one of my upcoming “Community Collaborative Discussions.” The purpose is for me to engage with our community, listen to thoughts and ideas from parents and residents, provide accurate facts and information, and bring the community together in the interest of educating our students to the best of our ability. Your ideas and support are greatly appreciated. I hope you can attend one of the following community discussions.

Dates: March 1 and April 18

Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Bonsall Community Center

David Jones

Superintendent, Bonsall Unified School District


Reader Comments

SaveGirdValley writes:

It is worth your time to re-read the original commentary which you can find at Lots of additional info on this issue at Thx!


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