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BUSD superintendent holds Community Collaborative Discussion

 

Last updated 10/14/2018 at 3:24pm



Delainy Reinard

BHS Senior

Bonsall Unified School District Superintendent David Jones conducted a Community Collaborative Discussion, Sept. 27, to share information about Measure EE. About 60 community members attended.

Jones said that BUSD is pursuing Measure EE because, “It is the responsible thing to do educate the children of BUSD in facilities conducive to learning.” He said that it is not a responsible thing to intermix 18-year-old boys with 11-year-old girls on a daily basis on the same campus.

In 2012, the residents of the Fallbrook and Bonsall school districts voted to unify Bonsall Union School District, Jones said, to expand it to kindergarten through 12th grade public school district and the BUSD is tasked with implementing that decision. He said that he has been asked if the district can “un-unify,” which wasn’t in his authority to do, he said, and that he has never heard of it being done.

During the evening’s “collaborative discussion,” Jones invited the audience to ask questions or provide comments at will. He introduced Brad Jordan of Save Gird Valley, who sat to Jones’ left, and said that although their opinions differed on the matter, they were still neighbors and were respectful of each other’s opinions.

As Jones presented the attendance numbers for the high school, he said that the current capacity of the middle school classroom building which is housing the high school students is 341, with a normal capacity for 270 students. One member raised an objection about interdistrict transfer students.

“I don't like my property taxes going up by $700 to support students coming in from surrounding communities,” she said.

With the help of assistant superintendent William Pickering, Jones shared that an incoming transfer student produces a positive cash flow of over $8,000 per year from the state rather than being a burden to taxpayers. He said that requests for interdistrict transfers were accepted on his authority, only if seats were available in existing classrooms. The cost of the bond was $37.50 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value and not the market value, Jones said.

The planned usage of the bond was broken down for attendees: $31 million would go to building the new high school and the remainder would go to emerging and critically important security needs given the increased trend of school shootings in the nation, according to Jones. He shared that currently not all of the classrooms could be locked down in a crisis by a teacher, the school’s camera systems were nonexistent or in need or upgrade and the school’s communication systems needed to be expanded. The last use of the bond money will go toward renovations to the track facilities at the existing five schools of BUSD.

When Jones presented numbers over the next four years which indicated the district’s projected growth from 2,500 to 3,000 total students, there were many voices objecting to the projections as being overly inflated.

“Even though there is housing growth in the Bonsall/Fallbrook area, state projections indicate a shrinking school age population,” Jordan said. “So, we can’t believe these numbers.”

He also said that, “Bonsall High grew by only 34 students this year, so the number just doesn’t match up.”

Jones responded by saying that the growth projections were not numbers that the school district made up. They were developed using standard formulas used throughout San Diego County along with the input from the local home developers. It was also noted that attendance at BUSD was somewhat suppressed currently because some families were displaced by the Lilac Fire and decided not to return to the district.

When a member of the audience asked what percentage of Sullivan Middle School students went on to Bonsall High and why, Jones said, that it was about 50 percent. A member of the audience, who is a high school student formerly from Sullivan Middle, said that there were two main reasons that she and many of her friends went to other schools for high school. One issue was that they didn’t want to hang around the middle school campus for another four years. The other reason was the desire for a better high school experience with more enrichment, including use of a theater, a gym and more athletics.

During discussions of the actual high school site on Gird Road, Jordan said that the bond covers only phase one of the high school, supporting 500 students and is expandable to 700 students with portables.

“So, this bond isn’t just $38 million,” Jordan said. “It is two or three times that cost, for future phases in a few years.”

Jones, with the help of Pickering, corrected the statement that the Measure EE bond was capped at $38 million and couldn’t grow above that; he also said that less than all of it could be the final cost. He also pointed out that the $31 million cost of the high school had a price cushion built in to allow for cost creep of about 8 percent for delays and changes. Pickering said that later phases of the school wouldn’t be started until there was a clear need and that there were possible sources of funding other than a local bond. These funds might include future funding from the state or from developers.

In concluding remarks, Jones offered a picture of what might happen if Measure EE wasn’t approved by the voters. It included three options: first, adding portable classrooms to Sullivan Middle School and effectively taking away the athletic field; second, developing a campus of portable buildings on the Gird Road site and third, though not discussed, turning away students by some method when some absolute maximum attendance level was reached.

 

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