Dear Bonsall School Community,
You might have seen recently various news articles covering the Bonsall Unified School District’s plan to continue preparing the Gird Road site for the construction of Bonsall High School despite Measure DD, the Bond providing funding for its construction, which didn’t pass with the required 55% voter approval. In earlier blogs we presented the critical nature of the timing of Measure DD and how passage would benefit Bonsall taxpayers; the concurrent State Bond, Proposition 51 providing millions of dollars in matching funds to build the high school, the growth in student population due to the development we see throughout Bonsall, and the projected increase in interest rates making the project more expensive for Bonsall taxpayers if there is delay. These issues of timing are the reason we are continuing the work to prepare the Gird Site. The District is using funds that were set aside to prepare the site through environmental studies, as well as architectural and pre-construction services. These are the initial phases required for building the High School. There is no intention to give a notice to proceed on the construction until the District can afford to.
The most focused opponents of Measure DD living near the Gird Rd site created the “No New Taxes” campaign to defeat it. They are driven by a NIMBY conviction to never allow a high school on that site. Since NIMBY doesn’t garner much support outside their area, they reformed as Citizens for Accountability in Taxation and Education, or “CATE”. Sounds so admirable it must be credible. We understand the anti-growth sentiment and any increase in traffic in their area is unacceptable to them. However, our District covers 88 square miles of the San Luis Rey river valley and we have invested much time and money exploring at least a dozen other possible sites. Their misinformation strategy has escalated from one issue to another, and although the press has seen through the NIMBY issues, our District is being harassed and bullied to start over building the Bonsall High somewhere else.
Although Bonsall used lease/lease back to build Bonsall West, Bonsall Elementary, and the High School building on Sullivan’s campus, lately the CATE people contend that the lease/lease back method of funding school construction is illegal. We prevailed in a case charging that last spring with an attorney who portends to protect taxpayers. Their misinformation says the only reason we prevailed was because the attorney filed his documentation late. Although it was true he was late in his filing, his list of illegal allegations confused the court so much the District had to spend over $35,000 of taxpayer funds for the judge to see that the allegations were all false. The new law beginning this year addressing the lease/lease back method simply seeks to sharpen the law to prevent such frivolous lawsuits. But that attorney is back, and I was told by one of the most adamant opponents to building the high school that that she sent him a check.
When such conflicts between groups arise, in order to make much sense of the issues it is always important to keep the separate motivations in the forefront to see what the source of the conflict is. The foundation of this conflict is simply that CATE and some others that live in the area want Bonsall High School built somewhere else. The timing and the District investment combine to make that an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars. Granted, CATE is using harassment and legal bullying tactics to extort greater expense to where the District might have to cut its losses. That is a Board decision, not mine. I am just the grateful lead servant making recommendations to the Board based on information and research so the District can use its resources to achieve “Academic excellence and support for all students to be highly competitive in their chosen career path and college.” Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Bonsall School Community!