Special Board Meeting, EIR and process to pursue school funds

A status report on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and design information for a  high school for 1,500 students proposed for a site on Gird Road in Fallbrook was presented at a special board meeting on September 28 at the new (opened Fall 2016) 18,000 square foot 350-student high school. This high school is located at the Sullivan Middle School Campus (current enrollment 328). Ten classrooms upstairs are designed to serve 27 students each, reported Facilities Manager David Medcalf. The upper floor also hosts a large lab space, the Principals office and a separate office for the administrative assistant. Downstairs is broken into additional large rooms/labs with a very large meeting space.

Phase I of the design, to accommodate 500 students, will include all the parking (200,000 sq. ft.) plus 85,000 sq. ft.  of the proposed full build out (150,000 sq. ft.).

The EIR is expected to be released in 30 days for a 45-day comment period. There was no mention about the 16.14 acres of federally-designated critical arroyo toad habitat and it is reported the the three unnamed tributaries to the San Luis Rey River located on the site (see Initial CEQA study, October 2016) have mysteriously been reduced to one. There are no plans to mitigate for any destruction of habitat.

Julie Zimmerman of BakerNowicki Design walked the audience through the steps to complete prior to submitting to the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) for Proposition 51 Funding:

  1. Complete the Draft EIR and Submit for Public Review
  2. Respond to Public Review comments
  3. Finalize Environmental Impact Report
  4. Approve Site Selection – Gird Road or Other
  5. Commence Design Development Documents – January 2018
  6. Complete Construction Documents
  7. Submit Construction Documents to Division of State Architect for Review and Approval – October 2018
  8. Receive DSA approval – approximately July 2019
  9. OPSC places BUSD application on the unfunded list – August 2019
  10. BUSD provides District match using GO Bond funds or other financing
  11. Complete / Resubmit eligibility requirement forms that are required by the State to confirm present day eligibility
  12. State Proposition 51 Bond Sale provides State matching dollars
  13. Date order and compete for funding – OPSC to certify District has match and can begin construction within 90 days of apportionment by State Allocation Board (SAB)

If the Board authorized Design Development Documents to begin January 2018, the remaining items 5-12 would likely be completed within 3 to 3-1/2 years or about July 2021. At that time construction of the new high school could commence with students occupying the campus beginning 2023/24 school year. The 2-story building is currently at capacity. It would be sound facility planning for the District to provide additional high school facilities to meet its growing high school student needs prior to the 2023/24 school year.”

The original plan presented in the unification documents was to convert the Sullivan Middle School campus into a high school which could easily absorb the projected 500-ish students BUSD was projecting would occupy it, before the new 350-student high school (how serving 328) was built in 2016 and projected changed to 352 for 2019/2020 in BUSD’s budget projections. However, now all parties (except for 2 board members, Dick Olson and Sylvia Tucker and thousands of district residents) appear to be pushing through plans to build a 1,500-student school on Gird Road in two phases, in spite of serious financial hurdles.

During an exchange with board members Timothy Coen and Erin English, Ms. Zimmerman stated, referring to the new Bonsall High School built at the Sullivan Middle School campus and its request for over $3 million of state funding“We actually submitted it as Sullivan Middle School to preserve your high school eligibility.”

What this means is unclear.