Q: HOW MANY HIGH SCHOOLS DO WE HAVE NEAR BONSALL AND FALLBROOK?
Taxpayers have built (and maintain) 32 public high schools in the area ringing BUSD. Another 15 private high schools, along with home schooling and new digital learning options, compete to serve the varied needs of the District’s children. See list below. In North County, three school districts made the State’s financially challenged list this year: Bonsall, Oceanside and San Marcos.
Within 15 miles of Bonsall (zip 92003), GreatSchools.org maps 118 high schools. Remarkably, if you are willing to travel 25 miles from 92003, there are almost 200 high schools from which to choose.
The San Diego Union Tribune reports on schools competing for fewer students in San Diego County while California stats project that, starting 2021, “declining birth rates and lower in-migration rates will send school enrollment on a continuous decline, according to state enrollment projections.”
Public and Charter High Schools (paid for by your tax dollars):
Bonsall High School, Bonsall
Audeo Charter School II, Carlsbad
Carlsbad High School, Carlsbad
Sage Creek High School, Carlsbad
Fallbrook High School, Fallbrook
Ivy Continuation High School, Fallbrook
Coastal Academy (Charter) High School, Oceanside
El Camino High School, Oceanside
Ocean Shores High School, Oceanside
Oceanside High School, Oceanside
Pacific View Charter School, Oceanside
Mission Vista High School, Oceanside
SIATech North County Coastal Independent Study High School, Oceanside
Bayshore Preparatory Charter School, San Marcos
San Marcos High School, San Marcos
Chaparral High School, Temecula
Great Oak High School, Temecula
Julian Charter School, Temecula
Rancho Vista High School, Temecula
Springs Charter Schools, Temecula
Temecula Valley High School, Temecula
Oak Glen High School, Valley Center
Valley Center High School, Valley Center
Alta Vista High School, Vista
The Classical Academy Charter School, Vista
Diego Valley Public High School, Vista
Murray High School, Vista
North County Trade Tech High School, Vista
Palomar High School, Vista
Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista
Sierra Vista High School, Vista
Vista High School, Vista
Religious and Private (not paid for by your tax dollars) High Schools:
Pacific Ridge School, Carlsbad
Family Education Academy, Fallbrook
New Covenant Christian Academy, Fallbrook
Spirit Mountain, Fallbrook
Saint Joseph Academy, San Marcos
6) Taylion San Diego Academy, San Marcos
7) Tri-City Christian School, Vista
8) Linfield Christian School, Temecula
9) Oakhill Academy, Temecula
10) Rancho Christian School, Temecula
11) Van Avery Prep, Temecula
12)Calvary Christian School, Vista
Guajome Park Academy, Vista
Halstrom High, Vista
New Haven, Vista
Plus State of California K-12 online classes: start.k12.com
Originally posted Oct 24, 2018, Updated Oct 29, 2018, Updated Nov 3, 2018
The Yes on Measure EE committee, which is pushing to build a Bonsall High School for 1,500 in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley, advertises itself as a grassroots campaign when it is actually receiving large contributions from special interest groups including sprawl developer Lilac Hills Ranch. Oddly structured as a 501c4, the Yes on EE campaign does business (attempting to convince voters to vote to tax themselves for 30+ years to pay for a $38M bond measure with a final cost double that) under the name “Safe and Strong Bonsall Schools”. It is estimated that, to build what BUSD has proposed, will actually take three similarly-sized bond measures. You can research its campaign filings via the Public Access Portal.
CalWest Construction ($3,000), Pardee Homes ($2,500) and Lilac Hills Ranch ($10,000) contributed late in October 2018. Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) has been a constant presence in the Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) high school saga. LHR interests contributed $27,000 of the $29,000 in the 2012 campaign for unification (expanding BUSD’s programs from K-8 to K-12). It was back again in 2016, contributing $10,000 for Measure DD and here it is again in 2018. LHR contributed $10,000 this time, with $5,000 of that as a loan.
Escondido-based Erickson-Hall Construction, which is in the business of building brick and mortar schools, contributed $15,000 to the campaign. Not surprising, Erickson-Hall also contributed to BUSD’s $58M Bond Measure DD, which failed passage in 2016. DD was Attempt #5 by a school district to build in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley since 1978. The month after Measure DD failed, BUSD approved a construction contract, with Erickson-Hall Construction advancing the funds to build the high school, then leasing the building back to the District (Lease-Leaseback). The interest rate was 14.6% with payments of $300,000/month. After years of deficit spending, such a contract would have bankrupted BUSD. Thankfully, a CalTAN.org lawsuit resulted in the cancellation of this exorbitant contract and Board Members Dick Olson and Sylvia Tuckers started to ask the hard questions. (Amazingly, BUSD Board Member Timothy Coen publicly condemned the lawsuit, essentially defending the terms of this Lease-Leaseback contract.)
Urban Futures, the parent corporation of Isom Advisors, contributed $5,000. BUSD hired Isom Advisors to research talking points and write bond Measure EE. If EE passes, Isom will earn over $100,000 for brokering the bond in the bond markets.
BUSD’s Superintendent David Jones loaned the “Yes on EE” campaign $2,000, due December 1. Some of Jones’ staff have also contributed.
Jeff Johnson, the campaign’s treasurer, loaned $2,000 to the campaign, also due December 1. Johnson is also running a GoFundMe page to build a high school using the photo of the original Bonsall school house built in the 1800s. To clarify, this is an unused historical structure. BUSD’s high school students are housed in a brand new state-of-the-art high school which opened to great fanfare in the Fall of 2016.
The Pala Band of Mission Indians have contributed $5,000 to 2018’s Measure EE. Pala reservation residents are eligible to vote but do not pay property taxes. Pala contributed to 2016’s Measure DD and Pala Tribe Member Eric Ortega is running for a BUSD Board seat in this election.
BakerNowicki Design Studio (BNDS) contributed $10,000. BUSD paid BNDS $181,000 for a selection of very basic schematic drawings in 2017. In May of 2018, BUSD approved another $242,000 for more BNDS design work, specific to the Gird Road site in Fallbrook.
Mark Dillon, an attorney specializing in environmental law and a member of the Building Industry Association of San Diego County, contributed $2,500 to the pro-development Yes on EE campaign.
BUSD Board Member and contractor Lou Riddle contributed $1,000 with a business check from Lou Riddle Construction. Lou Riddle is also running for the BUSD Board this election. After Dr. Sylvia Tucker refused to support Measure EE and raised concerns in the Village News about BNDS’s dated school designs, Lou Riddle and Timothy Coen, endorsed the candidate running against her.
Oddly we see no contributions reported yet from Timothy Coen but he is making phone calls to District voters.
The Yes on EE campaign reported it has paid out $10,000 to Terris Barnes Walters Boigon Heath (TBWB), a San Francisco-based firm providing strategy, direct mail, videos, robo-calls, websites and digital advertising tailored to passing bond campaigns.
We have heard the “Yes on EE” budget is a substantial $100,000 so we may see additional contributions from building contractors and developers. To date, about $75,000 has been reported (contributions and loans), about double what we saw in 2016 for Measure DD (which included a large contribution from sprawl-developer Lilac Hills Ranch).
Don’t be fooled. Big money interests are sending money in an attempt to pass Bond Measure EE, the sixth attempt to pass a bond to build a high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. This is clearly not a grassroots campaign. This is big business.
Meanwhile, unable to pay for what the taxpayers have already built it (124 classrooms scattered from Oceanside to Pala), BUSD earned a spot on the State’s Fiscal Red Flag Report, along with two other North County school Districts: Oceanside and San Marcos. The State of California notes people are starting families later in life and having fewer children resulting in public school enrollment moving into a long-term declining trend. Add to this online learning options which are doing to education what online buying did to brick and mortar retail and it’s not a pretty picture.
While all this is going on, NOonMeasureEE.com volunteers are sorting flyers, making phone calls, walking door to door and replacing their stolen “VOTE NO on EE” signs multiple times.
NOonMeasureEE.com has a budget that is less than one tenth of the special interest-funded “Yes on EE “campaign. NOonMeasureEE.com is truly a locally-led grassroots campaign and they need your help. Please donate to them today!
Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD), with a 2018 graduating class of just 57, is wrong to ask voters to build it a new campus via its $38M Bond Measure EE.
BUSD cannot afford to operate its existing campuses. After running deficits for over seven years, California issued BUSD a “qualified certification” stating BUSD “may not meet its financial obligations for fiscal year 2017–18 or 2018–19”.
District-wide, BUSD has 124 classrooms (including a new state-of-the-art high school with two expensively-outfitted laboratories), scattered from Oceanside to Pala. 2,500 are enrolled with 2,300 students on campus daily. At 25-27 students/classroom, BUSD’s 124 classrooms can accommodate 3,100-3,348 students.
There is no capacity crisis at BUSD, just an inefficient use of space and taxpayer dollars.
While BUSD attempts to ignore reality, voters should not. Among others, the Republican Party of San Diego County and the Fallbrook Democratic Club bothrecommend voting NO on Measure EE.
In an attempt to justify its folly, BUSD is using overly aggressive enrollment projections but we’ve seen wild projections before. In 2005 The San Diego Union Tribune reported on a study predicting a doubling of enrollment at Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) from 3,000 to 6,000 by 2025 (“Fallbrook High School has ambitious plans to accommodate growing enrollment”). At the time, FUHSD was pushing taxpayers to support a second campus to open in 2008. This high school was to be built on the exact same parcel BUSD wants to build on via Measure EE, a site in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. FUHSD lost similar ballot measures four times and the predictions were completely wrong. FUHSD’s enrollment fell to 2,071 by 2015 and hovers around 2,000 today, a 30% decline. FUHSD declared the Great Gird Money Pit surplus property and passed it to BUSD as part of the unification agreement between the two school districts. BUSD attempted, and failed, to pass a $58 million bond, Measure DD, in 2016. Funded by campaign contributions from contractors, school designers and bond brokers, the campaigners are back again. Believing you’ll see the reduced amount as more reasonable, Attempt #6’s Measure EE, asks you for $38 million, foot in the door money.
In 2014, BUSD predicted its enrollment would double from 2,500 students to 5,000 by 2020, with the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch mega-development contributing fully half of the projected increase. Lilac Hills Ranch’s 1,700 housing units have been proposed for open space zoned for 110 homes located within the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District but BUSD offered to move its boundaries and take all these students! After losing at the ballot box (2016’s Measure B), Lilac Hills Ranch stalled but other developments were built. However, even after expanding its programs from K-8 to K-12 and opening the doors to a brand new state-of-the-art high school in 2016, BUSD’s enrollment didn’t budge. It remains at about 2,500 students today.
BUSD now predicts 709 new units will generate 530 students District-wide (21% increase) of which 110 will choose BUSD’s high school (31% increase) in just one to five years. These are truly aggressive numbers. For comparison, Poway, North County San Diego’s fastest growing District, experienced only a 10% increase over a decade.
Taxpayers have built (and maintain) 32 public high schools in the area ringing BUSD. Another 15 private high schools, along with home schooling and new digital learning options, compete to serve the varied needs of the District’s children. Within 15 miles of Bonsall (zip 92003), GreatSchools.org maps 118 high schools. Remarkably, if you are willing to travel 25 miles from 92003, there are almost 200 high schools from which to choose.
This is a very good thing. Choice! Diversity! We actually do not have a government monopoly on education in North County, a very good thing.
There are 7,798 housing units within the Bonsall Unified School District. A 10% increase (about 780 housing units) would generate a corresponding 10% increase in the students choosing BUSD’s programs (250 District-wide, including 35 in high school). A 20% increase in housing units (1,560) would generate about 500 students with 70 in high school, certainly not enough to support building a large new high school and certainly not in Fallbrook on a site the voters have rejected five times since 1978. Measure EE is Attempt #6 for this site, located just 1.1 miles from the northern edge of the District in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley.
While BUSD’s developer-generated projections are clearly overly aggressive, so are its budget projections. BUSD’s 2018-2019 budget overestimated revenue by $850,000 (100 students never materialized), underfunded its reserve for maintenance and underestimated its expenses ($242,000 approved for design work related to the Gird Road site is conspicuous by its absence). BUSD is firmly on track for another year of deficit spending.
Today’s reality is smaller families started later in life. As a result, California predicts its public schools are entering a long-term declining enrollment trend. While its enrollment projections are overstated, BUSD’s actual enrollment figures already reflect this shift with substantial declines at the elementary school level for the 2018-2019 school year.
Beware the fuzzy math used in the campaign to pass Measure EE, fuzzy math used to convince voters to accept the burden of additional taxes for building more government-designed brick and mortar.
SEPT 19, 2018: A big thank you to our speakers and supporters, to all who attended the SaveGirdValley.com meeting at the Library on September 18. It was a terrific evening, standing room only! We are sharing the PowerPoint Presentation we used at the meeting. If you open it in slideshow mode, the links will work for you. We hope you find the info useful.
Monserate Winery‘s Jade Work who updated us on what’s going on with his family’s 116 acres located in the heart of Gird Valley. He shared some great renderings. See them in the PowerPoint Presentation.
James Gordon spoke on the very strong Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD)/Lilac Hills Ranch connection and how mega developers are using school districts to advance their sprawl agenda.
U.S. Marine and Gird Valley neighbor Julian Torres spoke on getting involved in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)/Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process. You can too! See his letter and more here!
Environmental attorney Kevin Johnson gave additional detail on on the CEQA/EIR process. BUSD has announced it will release its DRAFT EIR for public comment about mid-October. We’re asking for an extended public comment period (generally 45 days) so the community can read and comment on this document, expected to be over 1,000 pages. We can only hope!
Radio host and community advocate Carl DeMaio spoke on the growing coalition Against Measure EE and BUSD’s egregious financial mismanagement. For this reason, Carl is recommending a NO on Measure EE vote. Carl used this BUSD slide to illustrate the severe financial problems at BUSD:
Teresa Platt and Brad Jordan of SaveGirdValley.com shared their thoughts on the Challenges Facing Gird Valley. The PowerPoint Presentation they used included great detail on the huge school proposed for the southern end of Gird Valley. Key takeaways: BUSD opened the doors on a brand new state-of-the-art high school in the Fall of 2016 but now wants to build another one even though its 2018 graduating class consisted of just 57 students. We learned there are 7,798 housing units in the District which is ringed by 32 public and 15 private high schools. Those 7,798 units generate about 2,500 school children (K-12) enrolled at BUSD with about 2,300 in attendance daily. They are housed in 124 classrooms on four campuses (Sullivan Middle/High School), Bonsall Elementary, Bonsall West Elementary and Vivian Banks Charter School on the Pala Reservation. Should growth trigger more students, let’s do the math. Adding 10% more housing units in the District, about 800 units, will generate about 250 more students enrolled District-wide (34 of those in high school). BUSD’s projections are overstated. Combine this with the fact that California is facing a long term declining trend in enrollment and building more brick and mortar in the digital era is just another risky bet.
Measure EE this November will be Attempt #6 to pass a bond to build a high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. Why is BUSD ignoring the voters? To get involved with the official key campaign committee, contact the volunteers at NOonMeasureEE.com
As for school Board candidates, we are circulating a Questionnaire to the candidates now and will post their responses soon. Stay tuned!
Again, it was an amazing night!!! Thank you to all our volunteers, supporters and speakers, all those who made it possible.
Thank you to all who attended SaveGirdValley.com’s September 18 meeting. Jade Work shared details on the progress at Monserate Winery. James Gordon and Mark Jackson shared thoughts on preserving North County. Environmental attorney Kevin Johnson and homeowner Julian Torres discussed the Environmental Impact Report process. Carl DeMaio shared thoughts on the political landscape.
SaveGirdValley.com volunteers Teresa Platt and Brad Jordan shared challenges facing Gird Valley with a special focus on Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) which is attempting to build just 1.1 miles from the northern edge of the District in Fallbrook. The controversial and inconvenient Gird Valley site they have chosen has lost at the ballot box five times since 1978. BUSD’s $38M bond for grading and building with an Environmental Impact Report for a 1,500-student high school, Attempt #6, is Measure EE.
BUSD 2018 high school graduating class (housed in a new state-of-the-art school) was 57 students. There are 7,798 housing units in the District (ringed by 32 public and 15 private high schools) generating 2,500 students (K-12) with about 2,300 on campus daily. They are housed in 124 classrooms on several BUSD campuses from Oceanside to the Pala Reservation. If we take an average of 27 students per classroom, that’s accommodations for 3,348 students. There is no capacity crisis in the Bonsall School District.
An increase of 10% in the housing units will generate another 250 students (with 34 in high school). This modest growth is easily accommodated within the current structures. California also faces a long-term declining enrollment trend starting 2021. Building more brick and mortar, especially in the digital era, is folly, especially for a small school district with declining reserves after seven years of deficit spending.
Volunteers at NOonMeasureEE.com are fighting Measure EE, Attempt #6 to pass a bond to build a high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. They need your help so contact them today!
Additionally, we asked the BUSD Board candidates some hard questions. Read their answers and please vote wisely! The quality of our future depends on it.
2018 Election: Vetting the candidates running for the Bonsall Unified School District’s Board of Trustees
Originally published October 2, 2018. Updated October 20, 2018
NOTE: The Village Newspublished information on each candidate in its October 14 issue. Dr. Sylvia Tucker stated she was Neutral on EE and critical of the proposed high school designs. Dr. Coen publicly attacked her position and endorsed her opponent Larissa Anderson.
Four seats out of five on the Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) Board are up for election in 2018. In early September SaveGirdValley.com sent out a Questionnaire to all eight candidates running for the BUSD Board. Here are the results as of September October 2, 2018:
Three candidates completed the full Questionnaire. Two candidates completed it fully and in a timely manner, returning it in early September: Roger Merchat and Dr. Sylvia Tucker. Brian Olson provided his answers on October 1.
One candidate partially completed the Questionnaire: Michael Gaddis provided a statement, then replied to some of the questions on October 2.
One candidate provided only a statement: Larissa Anderson.
One candidate promised to answer the questions but never did: Eric Ortega.
Two candidates did not respond to multiple emails: incumbents Timothy Coen and Lou Riddle.
We appreciate the candidates who are transparent and responsive to the voters!
Candidates for BUSD Board, 2016 November 2018 election (incumbents in red).
BUSD proposes moving its high school students from a moderate wildfire zone in Bonsall to a very high wildfire zone in Fallbrook and then offered only one entrance/exit in the proposed design plan. The community revolted and stated that, if any school were built anywhere in North County San Diego, two exits was a non negotiable. SaveGirdValley.com delivered a written opinion from a Fire Chief on the subject and BUSD approached the Fallbrook Fire Chief and he publicly announce that he had never sent a letter advocating for two exits. To be clear, the letter is by retired Ventura County Fire Chief Roper and you can read it here.
BUSD says it cares about the children but it had never developed school shooting or fire safety evacuation plans for any of its campuses. The community continues to push BUSD to address this deficiency, District-wide, via the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) process for a massive 1,500-student school proposed for Fallbrook’s Gird Valley, 1.1 miles from the northernmost edge of the school district. This is the sixth time, a high school has been proposed for this inconvenient site (it has lost five times at the ballot box).
Traffic, parking and car accidents are all issues, District-wide, at BUSD and it is estimated that its proposed high school for Fallbrook’s Gird Valley will result in an unacceptable 73% increase in traffic. But BUSD has not implemented a carpool or any sort of traffic/parking/accident reduction program. A carpool app program is a natural fit for BUSD which claims to run a high-tech high located in what was lauded as a “state-of-the-art high school” when it opened in the Fall of 2016. In 2017, volunteers from SaveGirdValley.com researched a dozen carpool apps, recommended one and offered $1,000 toward the program. In July 2018, a second attempt was made to trigger follow up to carpooling concept at BUSD. As of September 25, 2018, BUSD has not replied.
BUSD has been criticized at its Board meeting on safety deficiencies in its parking lot design for its proposed high school.
BUSD built at least one school without fire sprinklers and ignored maintenance needs including those for “fire and life safety”. In 2016, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association criticized BUSD, noting: “SDCTA believes the District has NOT included projects in its bond program to address some major maintenance needs, particularly those regarding fire and life safety. For example, we noted that Bonsall West Elementary does not have a sprinkler system and there are numerous electrical and plumbing deficiencies at each of the existing campuses.” In response to this criticism, BUSD set up a stunningly ineffective $50,000/year maintenance fund even as its deferred maintenance backlog grew into the millions. It is unclear if these fire and life safety deficiencies have ever been addressed.
BUSD should be a good neighbor and implement plans to reduce traffic, parking and accidents District-wide.
BUSD should address all life and safety deficiencies in its buildings as part of its regular maintenance schedule.
BUSD should develop evacuation plans in case of emergencies and support two entrances exits at any campus in North San Diego County.
When BUSD says it cares about student safety, please ask them specifically about these issues.
January 9, 2018 It only took us six months but we finally found out what the last Superintendent was actually paid in 2016. It’s a shocker!
In 2015, The San Diego Union Tribune commented on Dr. Justin Cunningham’s Superintendent’s salary, benefits and pension ($191,000 for overseeing a small school district) in an article entitled “Some superintendent salaries rising to the extreme.” Here’s the snippet from the article:
Superintendent Justin Cunningham signed a 3 year contract in 2015 for approximately $170k plus benefits. In 2016, the Board approved raises for staff, increasing the Superintendent’s base pay to $178k. However TransparentCalifornia reveals Superintendent Cunningham’s salaries and benefits were a shocking $281k in 2016, more than the Governor of California!
It took SaveGirdValley.com six months and dozens of emails to BUSD to finally see the correct figures for 2016 being posted to TransparentCalifornia. Cunningham retired in 2017, saying he had a bad knee. His pension will be based on this very high salary. The Village Newshas reported Cunningham’s taxpayer-funded pension will be 80 to 85% of his salary. This is interesting since County employees only receive 40.5% of their salaries.
MAR 20, 2018 Fallbrook Community Planning Group (FCPG) comments on proposed high school in Gird Valley
Gird Valley neighbors attended the Fallbrook Community Planning Group’s March meeting (Agenda, Item 5 ) to engage in discussion on the Draft EIR for Bonsall Unified School District’s proposal to build a 1,500-student high school in Gird Valley in Fallbrook. Thank you to those who spoke and shared concerns regarding the very large project creating a massive increase in traffic, parking problems and accidents while pointing out that the proposed site is not centrally located within the Bonsall Unified School District.
Planning Committee Vice-Chairman Jack Wood noted that endangered species were found on the property, detailed how the property had been declared surplus and was to be sold when Fallbrook High School owned it, that it had been declared not suitable for a high school. He noted that the FCPG requires that we “don’t disrupt the natural terrain of the land, this is absolutely contrary to that.” Commenting on the undulation of the property, he questioned the volume of cubic yards of land that would have to be removed. He had concerns about the “undulation of that property, the inadequacy of the parking,” noting that the school was being built to a 1,500 student population. “That location would clearly disrupt Gird Valley and would create traffic that is far in excess of what you have there today.” “There are a number of reasons why this property is not suitable for a school. This would create, with the current zoning, 2-acre lots, this would create about 17 to 18 houses on that particular property and that would be my recommendation. So based on the interest of saving the Gird Valley from the unwanted traffic and congestion, I strongly oppose the development of a high school on this location.”
Planning Committee Chairman Jim Russell stated, “I think a major egregious error in this EIR is the fact that the property is not centrally located where a high school should be so folks can feed in from all around. This is the very extreme edge of the school district,” “on the very extreme edge, the northern edge, of the district and in my opinion is not an appropriate place for a high school.” Russell stated BUSD understated parking needs for students, staff, “they will have parking for less than 10% of the student body.” “I think [this development] would totally devastate Gird Valley with all the students trying to park out on Gird Road and I seriously question the logic of the folks who put those numbers in the EIR and think that is an appropriate thing to do.”