Looking back a few years …

Less than five years ago, the official line from Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) was, “We do not want, nor do we need a massive brick and mortar high school ……Nor do we need fifty acres of dirt to accomplish our mission.” 

Only five years ago, here were the plans and promises:

July 2012: California Department of Education (CDE) recommends that SBE adopt the Negative Declaration …. which finds that there is no substantial evidence that the project (proposal for the Bonsall School District to expand to include a high school) will have a significant effect on the environment.

The State Board of Education issued a report on the subject and BUSD declared: In a development planned to begin in the next 2–3 years, Palomar College will be across the street from the future site of a Bonsall School.  We are exploring the possibility of this becoming a future site of a high school using a 2 plus 2 program where students in high school can graduate with up to two years of college credit. With an increased use of technology to serve the digital learner, our educational program will be flexible enough to adapt to a variety of settings.”

Upon unification, the district’s plan for the high school facility is to convert the existing Sullivan Middle School site into a high school over a 4 year period. The current enrollment at the middle school  is 533 students. At this time, the site has 10 excess capacity classrooms for additional students if needed. This would provide ample space for the projected enrollment of 513 students for all four grades of high school. In addition, the site has a special education classroom and regional program currently housed on site.

While the district facilities could support all four high school grades right away, rather than make such a radical change from one fully implemented four-year high school to another, this Bonsall Unification Proposal is based on a plan of transitioning the grades at Sullivan Middle School from a middle school to a high school, one year at a time.  The District’s current facilities will easily support such a transition, and this will also allow for less of an impact on the Fallbrook High School Campus.  The campus and scheduling will allow for separation of older and younger students for most of their time on campus.” “The board has studied the facilities issue and believes that SMS can house very adequately the small high school that it envisions. We do not want, nor do we need a massive brick and mortar high school that it envisions……Nor do we need fifty acres of dirt to accomplish our mission.”

The governing board of the Bonsall Union ESD has invested a substantial effort in planning for a high school education for students within its boundaries (see Attachment 9). The governing board has planned to provide a smaller academy high school and “seeks to offer an attractive option to the large, comprehensive, or magnet high schools nearby.” As such, this academy will not offer comprehensive sports programs or a number of other extra-curricular programs that attract high school students. Therefore, it is highly likely that a substantial number of high school-age students will seek other options for high school, primarily Fallbrook High School (Fallbrook Union HSD) and Mission Vista High School (Vista Unified School District). “

The State Board of Education’s concluded: “Real Property and Personal Property Normally Situated thereat (Operating School Sites): The County Committee Study reports that the Fallbrook Union HSD has no school sites or facilities within the territory of the Bonsall Union ESD, but owns a 50-acre undeveloped parcel of land (Gird Road property) located in the Bonsall Union ESD. Because the parcel is undeveloped and has never been a school site, this study recommends the districts negotiate the value and disposition of the parcel.”

2012:  The Village News reported the high school is to be small, serving 500 students with the ability to expand to 1,000. The San Diego Union Tribune reports, “A small academy-style Bonsall high school would be established at an existing facility, likely Sullivan Middle School, to serve 500 to 600 students.”

September 17, 2012: BUHSD’s Superintendent Cunningham states in his blog, “To correct some misinformation reported, it should be noted that: PROPOSITION BB IS NOT FOR A BOND TO BUILD A NEW HIGH SCHOOL.It is up to the Bonsall community if such a bond is needed in the future. The BUSD has studied its existing facilities and has determined that Sullivan Middle School can adequately house the small high school that is envisioned (500 to 600 students).  

October 2012: The Village News reported that “BUSD studied its existing facilities and determined that Sullivan Middle School can adequately house the small high school that is envisioned. The school would house approximately 500 to 600 students.”

But by summer of 2016, with only 137 students enrolled in a brand new high school building located at its Sullivan Middle School campus, BUSD proposed the public be taxed to build a 150,000 sq. ft. school and performing arts center with 200,000 sq. ft of parking on Gird Road in Fallbrook. Measure DD, which would have funded this massive facility, was defeated in November of 2016, the fifth time the community has rejected building a high school on Gird Road. BUSD then ignored the will of the people and entered into an agreement in December of 2016 for a construction company to loan BUSD the money to build, with the Board hoping that eventually BUSD could pass another bond measure allowing BUSD to tax the District residents and pay off the loan. A lawsuit filed in February 2017 invalidated that plan but as of Spring 2017, BUSD’s Board has put out a request for proposals to contractors asking for–you guessed it–a loan to build a 1,500 student high school on Gird Road.  See our HISTORY for the full story.

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