A TALE OF TWO SCHOOL DISTRICTS
This is the tale of two of those school districts located in two unincorporated towns living side by side in North San Diego County.
The 2010 Census tell us Fallbrook covers 17.6 sq. miles with 9,999 households and a population of 30,534; 26.3% (8,045) under the age of 18.
To the south of Fallbrook is Bonsall, 13.6 sq. miles, 1,542 households, a population of 3,982; 21.2% (844) are under the age of 18.
History of the Districts
Following is a history of Fallbrook and Bonsall school districts, pieced together from various sources. We cannot guarantee accuracy, and there are doubtless many gaps. Help us improve this by contacting SaveGirdValley@gmail.com. Thanks! See also: Historical timeline for Fallbrook, CA area.
2001 – 2010
2011 – 2015
1858: Vital Reche and his family settle in what is now Live Oak Park. The Reche family originated from France and were descendants of Louis XV. They settled in Quebec, Canada, and when the Quebec civil war broke out, moved to Rochester, NY. They owned a coal mine in Fall Brook, PA, from where the coal was taken by train to New York. Vital and brother Antoine then travelled to the west coast via Panama, and after many travels Vital arrived in a beautiful place which reminded him of Fall Brook, PA, which he named Fall-Brook. He named his honey crop Fall Brook Honey and the nearby creek (now Live Oak Creek) Fall Brook Creek. (Special thanks to Mary Belton of the Fallbrook Historical Society for this entry.) Read: Reche brothers gave Fallbrook its name, U-T San Diego, October 15, 2006.
1869: Vital Reche donates land at Live Oak Park and Reche Road for first school called the Reche Grove School.
1871: Mt. Fairview (now Bonsall) establishes a Post Office.
1875: Fall Brook School District forms with an elementary school through 8th grade.
1878: Fall Brook Post Office established in Vital Reche’s hotel, Reche’s Retreat near what is now Live Oak Park.
1881: Mount Fairview (now Bonsall) changes its name to Osgood.
1882: The Bonsall School District consists of four schools: Mount Fairview School (near the present site of the “Little Old Bonsall School House”), Monserrate School, The River School and the Oaks School.
1885: Current Fallbrook School District formed.
1889: Osgood renamed Bonsall after local minister James A. Bonsall.
1891: Bonsall’s first attempt to pass a bond to build a new school fails (June 20, 1891) and the Bonsall School District votes (August 25, 1891) to extend the instruction from eighth grade through grade twelve so Bonsall students could get a high school diploma.
1893: Third Fallbrook school built with three classrooms upstairs for the high school, three downstairs for the elementary classes. Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD), the second oldest in the County, established to serve 20 students.
1893: 21 voters within the Bonsall School District pass a $900 bond (interest 7%) to build a new school.
1895: Bonsall School District enrollment was 41 students.
1896: Fallbrook’s second school burns down, with all records of the school system lost. Reche School rebuilt. Three local elementary school districts exist: Monserate, Mt. Fairview (Bonsall) and San Luis Rey.
1896: West Fall Brook Elementary School rebuilt and houses grammar school in four rooms on the first floor with Fall Brook Union High School on the second floor in four classrooms.
1911: Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) board approves $20,000 20-year construction bond for new high school.
1919: Fallbrook voters reject the first of many attempts at unification of the high school with Fallbrook’s many elementary schools.
July 25, 1919: The five Board of Directors choose the name Bonsall Union School District (BUSD) and agree to build a school on the site of the Mt. Fairview School. Plans are approved, a contract awarded for $16,671, with a 6% fee to the architect.
1920: BUSD passes a school bond for $18,500 for a new Spanish style school with an auditorium, stage, kitchen, two classrooms and principal’s office. The old schoolhouse is moved to its location behind the new building for use as a primary school.
1924: West Fallbrook Elementary School rebuilt again.
1931: FUHSD survey of 111 families determines average house has 5 rooms, 96 with running water, 32 had refrigerators. The 111 families owned 114 autos, 42 trucks, 83 radios and 60 pianos; 38 electric ranges, 26 gas stoves, 48 oil burners and 75 wood stoves.
1933: Fallbrook School District name changed to Reche School District. River School District lapses and is divided into Delpy (Vista Union), Mt. Fairview (Bonsall) and West Fallbrook.
1938: West Fallbrook Elementary School rebuilt again, followed by many additions since.
1930s: Public Works Administration Project approves $34,000 grant, 45% of the cost of new FUHSD auditorium/gymnasium/cafeteria, a pool and grading of a sports field.
1946: State Department of Education rates FUHSD the best small high school in California.
1948: State condemns part of FUHSD after it fails earthquake standards.
1949: New earthquake-code-compliant FUHS building constructed.
1953: $325,000 bond passed to move FUHSD to a new site south of the Fallbrook town center on the west side of Fallbrook at 2400 S Stage Coach Lane. The 46,000 sq. ft. project is delayed due to county-wide brick masons’ strike and heavy rain.
1954: BUSD builds two classrooms, an office, and a teachers lounge.
1958: FUHSD enrollment was 750 students.
1960: FUHSD trustees begin study “to locate and purchase an additional high school site for future expansion of the Fallbrook Union High School District. This twenty-five acre site was located on the corner of Gird Road and State Route 76,” says the FUHSD’s History page. [The Gird Road site is about 48-50 acres but perhaps FUHSD meant 25 buildable acres?]
1964: “Section 402 of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 is short, just a paragraph long, but it demanded something huge: The federal government had to conduct a nationwide survey ‘concerning the lack of availability of equal educational opportunities for individuals by reason of race, color, religion, or national origin.’ The results were to be reported back to Congress.”
1967: BUSD’s Spanish style building failed Field Act earthquake safely requirements and is torn down.
1967: $900,000 FUHSD bond passed to add cafeteria, classrooms and bus-loading facilities.
1967: FUHSD issues 3-year bond to acquire 50 acres on Gird Road for $170,000 with plans to build a second high school there when enrollment reaches 1,800, expected by 1977. Gird Road property (APN 124-340-34-00) transferred to Fallbrook Union High School District.
The Gird Road site, Assessor’s Parcel Number 124-340-34-00 is zoned A-70 with one parcel. 48 to 49.78 acres, it is located on the western side of Gird Road (0000 Gird Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028) in Gird Valley on the eastern side of Fallbrook, north of Highway 76, about 3 miles west of Interstate-15. Adjacent to the Golf Club of California, it is now surrounded by residential development. Further to the north along Gird Road is the old Fallbrook Golf Course which failed in 2016, was sold and is being transformed into Monserate Winery and vineyard, to be protected from development with conservation easements.
Its US Geological Survey map shows the Gird Road parcel is located on “Older alluvial flood plain deposits (Pleistocene, younger than 500,000 years) – Mostly moderately well consolidated, poorly sorted, permeable flood plain deposits.” Gird Valley is part of the Palomar Mountain watershed, serviced from the north via the Santa Margarita River, with water/tributaries flowing south through valleys, including Gird Valley, to the San Luis Rey River Valley and to sea. El Nino storm systems regularly replenish the streams and underground aquifers, most recently in 2017.
The Gird Road site “is located within designated critical habitat for the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus). Designated critical habitat for coastal California gnatcatcher (CAGN) occurs approximately 500 feet to the east of the project site. Designated critical habitat for the San Diego ambrosia occurs approximately 0.30 miles to the southeast of the project site. In addition, designated critical habitats for least Bell’s vireo (LBV) and southwestern willow flycatcher (SWFL) occurs approximately 0.28 miles south of the project site.” It contains “three unnamed tributaries” to the San Luis Rey River. The parcel’s rolling hills have stunning views of Monserate Hill and are dotted with coastal live oaks, all located within the boundaries of the North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). It has never been farmed, tilled, ranched (until BUSD grazed goats on it for brush management before and during its EIR process) or developed and sits undisturbed in its natural state.
1970s, Serrano v. Priest (three California Supreme Court decisions between 1971 and 1977 plus trial court rulings in 1974 and 1983) along with Proposition 13 and legislation, shifts school funding from primarily local property taxes to state funding. Lobbying groups quickly move to create and support Sacramento-based advocacy groups.
1978: California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) is formed “to promote, develop, and support state and local funding for K-12 construction.” Inquiries to CASH are answered by a Murdoch, Walrath & Holmes (MWH). MWH manages a variety of school facilities-focused advocacy organizations. MWH are registered lobbyists with the State of California and has reported approximately $13 million in lobbying funds since 2000.
Over the next few decades, CASH (which calls its monthly newsletter the CASH Register), “sponsors or supports “over $61 billion in statewide school bonds to build and/or modernize thousands of schools”.
1984: BUSD consists of 30 classrooms and two trailers.
1990: Two bond measures to build a school at the Gird Road site fail: a $35-million` bond measure put before the voters in June 1990 (Attempt #2) and a $35-million measure proposed only five months later in November (Attempt #3). Between June and November, support for passage drops by 11%. This loss marks three times a proposed high school at the Gird Road site has failed to win community support.
1992: FUHSD states the cost of building a new school has climbed 400% since the Gird Road site was purchased in 1967. It then places a $20-million bond on the ballot asking voters for $10.7 million to renovate the existing high school on the western side of town plus $9.3 million to develop a new school with a few permanent buildings and portable classrooms on the eastern side on the Gird Road site (Attempt #4). The bond measure fails, the fourth time a bond measure for funding a high school on the Gird Road site has failed passage. Even The Los Angeles Times noticed and commented on the obvious lack of community support for the Gird Road site. FUHSD was also finally getting the message. Superintendent Thomas explained that “unlike before, when many critics felt too much emphasis had been placed on building the new high school, this time considerable funds will be devoted to renovating the existing one.”
1994: FUHSD reports 2,300 students enrolled in a school designed for 1,800 and places a $23M bond measure on the ballot to improve the facilities at the existing FUHSD. The Gird Road site is not included. The bond measure passes.
1996-2000: FUHSD constructs five new buildings for $15.6M: a $3.3M-27,000-square-foot gymnasium; $5M performing arts center; $834,000 agricultural center; $4.5M media center and a $2M vocational arts building.
2001 – 2010
February 2001: “County supervisors set deadline for Sycamore Ranch developer,” San Diego Union-Tribune. Construction is stalled on a 485-acre site following a fine against the developers by the Fish and Wildlife Service for destroying habitat of the Southwestern arroyo toad. A federal biologist claims to have found a dead toad on the site, while a biologist hired by the developers claims no toads lived there. The site is right next door to the Gird Road parcel on which BUSD would, in 2016, attempt (but fail) to pass a bond to fund building a 1,500-student school and performing arts center.
October 2003: The “North County Fire Protection District board agreed … to pursue a $36,000, four-year contract to lease district property on Olive Hill Road to the Bonsall Union School District. Eventually, the school district wishes to buy the land, a school official said at the meeting of the district board. … School officials plan to place at least eight relocatable classrooms on the land for about 200 students in the Morro Hills Charter Academy for Learning, a kindergarten through fifth-grade school, and the Bonsall Charter Academy for Learning, a sixth- through twelfth-grade school. … The school district would pay $1,000 in monthly rent and nearly $100,000 for the one-time costs of permits, inspections, utilities, and other general site improvements needed to house the charter schools. … If the agreement goes well and finances stay stable, Jones said he foresees the site becoming a school campus. “If we had the money, I know we would like to buy the land,’ he told the board. ‘I guess we would have to talk again about three years from now.'” It is unclear what happened to this agreement in that there are no further press reports on the subject.
November 2003: Fred Good of PJHM Architects, “said he plans to assess Gird Road property owned by the district and take into account any environmental or other concerns the district would face if it built there.” “Board member Lynn Colburn asked Good if he had pursued the possibility of a land swap — trading the Gird Road property for either a larger parcel or two parcels — with housing developers. Good said the possibility had been discussed preliminarily.”
June 2004: FUHSD “paid PJHM Architects, a San Clemente consulting firm, $80,000 to come up with a road map for the next 20 years, said Superintendent Tom Anthony. Fred Good who was in charge of the study, told the board at its meeting Monday night that the district needs to begin planning for a new high school immediately, and for expanding its existing campus over the next five or six years until the new one can be completed.” “While the Gird property is valuable, [Good] said, the board should consider using it as an asset rather than a school site because of heavy traffic on nearby Route 76 and the uneven topography of the area.“
June 12, 2004: “Fallbrook high school district to present master plan,” San Diego Union-Tribune. The FUHSD 2004 Facilities Master Plan is a must read and includes several mentions of the Gird Road site. The FUHSD Facilities Master Plan includes discussions about enrollment doubling over 20-25 years. Enrollment at FUHSD peaked in 2004-05 at 3,176 [2015-2016: 2,071 in a school built for easily twice that number]. The report states, “The District’s ownership of the Gird Road property remains an extremely valuable asset. Development of this site for educational facility purposes may be difficult given the site’s relative adjacency to Highway 76 and the sole access to the Site off of Gird Road. However, the opportunity may exist to utilize the site as a potential ‘trade’ for an alternative site upon which to build new educational facilities.” “The District is fortunate that it owns the approximate 50- acre parcel on Gird Road. This is a beautiful and extremely valuable asset for the District. However, development of this site for educational purposes in 2004 may not be as viable as it likely appeared when the site was purchased in the 1960’s. The site’s location and proximity to the intersection of Highway 76 and Gird Road and sole access point off of Gird Road are problematic from a traffic perspective and, potentially, from an ‘approvability’ perspective through the required California Department of Education’s School Facilities Planning Division site review and approval process. It is strongly suggested efforts continue with the County of San Diego and the California Department of Education to fully assess these issues and their resultant impacts upon the “build ability” upon this site for educational purposes. Alternative GR-2 Given the beauty and location of the District’s Gird Road property it would seem short-sighted to not consider the potential ‘trade value’ of this property if the District seeks an additional site for future educational facilities. In essence, perhaps this property could be used to exchange for land elsewhere within District boundaries that may be more suitable for development as FUHSD educational facilities. It is strongly suggested that the District initiate a preliminary development review process with and through the County of San Diego’s Department of Planning and Land Use to help assess the potential value of this site for purposes other than educational.” “Gird Road Property – Tom Tooker ranked this site as a ‘2’ – in essence, this means that he is fairly comfortable with the site and would suggest that further study and analysis be completed. Issues that caused him to rank this site less than a ‘1’ were: • concerns over relative proximity to Hwy 76 and the future potential realignment of this road. • single point of access off of Gird Road is a concern, as is the general nature of Gird Road relative to suitability for servicing the vehicular needs associated with a potential 2,000 student high school. • irregular topography on the existing site and the likely requirement for fairly extensive grading in order to fully maximize the approximate 50 gross acres. • potential for sensitive environmental approval issues, i.e., presence of oaks, etc.”
December 2004: Development around the proposed Palomar Campus North at the 76 and 15 interchanged is detailed. Pardee’s Meadowood will be locaed within the BUSD) on the old Pankey Ranch. Passerelle LLC’s development will be in the Fallbrook school district and which school district a development by John Pappas of Sacramento will impact is unclear. Referring to FUHSD’s growth to 3,000 students (with 20% coming from Bonsall) and plans to build a second and third high school to serve , BUSD notifies San Diego County Board of Supervisors of its intent to expand to K-12, unification.
June 2005: The Village News reports that per a “study completed in June 2005, [FUHSD] enrollment is expected to double in the next 20 years. With 6,000 students, the district would need three schools to meet its goal of 2,000 per campus. But for now, the task of building one more full-service high school is enough. ‘We need a new school, and that’s no secret,’ said district Trustee Dennis Allen. ‘We have to be very prudent, as far as where to place it and how to go about doing it, because it impacts so many people.’” “On the table in front of the assistant superintendent, a hypothetical timeline suggests that if everything goes right, construction on a second campus could begin in February 2008.” [NOTE: The projections were completely wrong. FUHSD’s 2015-2016 enrollment was just 2,071 students.
September 2005: FUHSD Board votes to award a “$500,000 contract to PJHM Architects to design renovation plans for the aging athletic facilities, the first step” in a $5.3M project for new bleachers at the high school stadium, a new track, lighting improvements, a remodeled gym and a new 50-meter swimming pool” for what is described as a “badly overcrowded high school.” The $80,000 2004 PJHM Facilities Master Plan “evaluated growth projections and facilities planning. It also suggested sites for new high schools. District officials stress that regardless of whether a new high school is built, the athletic facility improvements at Fallbrook High are necessary. They also said the facilities can be used by everyone.” The football coach was enthusiastic: “It’s just something that our community deserves for all that they’ve given over the years” but the president of the teachers’ union cautioned, “The last time this kind of thing happened our salaries went way down and our class sizes went way up.”
November 2005: BUSD’s Proposition C, a $17 million bond measure, passes. The funds were to be used to partially finance replacement of the 40-year-old Bonsall Elementary School, estimated to cost $20.7 million, with District state funds covering the remaining $3.7 million. We find nothing in the public domain proving a Citizens Oversight Committee was established and, of the $17 million authorized, $5.5 million was secured via controversial Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs) which will cost District residents $18.4 million to pay off. In August 2013, BUSD’s Superintendent states, incorrectly, that BUSD did not use CABs in the 2005 bond issuance. There is also no mention in BUSD’S 2017 audit about this CAB debt.
2006: BUSD estimates 1,534 students enrolled in its elementary schools and adopts a $12.2M budget with a $227,827 deficit. BUSD employs 100 teachers and 111 others (admin, staff, maintenance and cafeteria workers, special education aides). “The teachers are now telling the district they want their salaries to be as high as possible to ensure retirement advantages because top level retirement benefits are based on salary alone.” BUSD moves forward with a unification process to expand to a high school. The process requires 1,465 of the district’s 6,650 registered voters sign a petition in support of unification. The petition states as its first goal, “We desire to establish a unified school district that will be responsive to the unique needs of our rural and geographically isolated student population.” 1,746 signature are collected. The FUHSD Superintendent states a Bonsall high school would have a financial impact on FUHSD (3,000 students with 20% of those living in Bonsall) and that it would move forward with a second high school and referenced a possible third one in ten years.
September 2006: BUSD reports 1,790 students and 114 teachers working at three schools the District operates.
2007: “Among the hurdles the [BUSD] faced along the way was a December 2007 report from Caldwell Flores Winter consulting firm hired by the county. The report in its section titled, “Real Property and Personal Property Normally Situated in Each District (Open and Operating School Sites)” that “The Fallbrook UHSD has no operating school sties within the territory of the proposed Bonsall Unified SD that would accrue to the proposed Bonsall Unified SD upon formation. However the Fallbrook UHSD does own a 49.78-acre parcel, Assessor Parcel Number (APN) 124-340-34-00, which for the purposes of this study is considered an asset of real property and subject to valuation and division as an asset. Should the proposed reorganization occur, the parties could negotiate the ultimate disposition of this asset.” “As previously stated, the Fallbrook UHSD owns an undeveloped parcel of land within the proposed Bonsall Unified SD. This parcel has never been a public school and it has not been approved by CDE to be used for a school. Therefore, there is no ‘public school property or buildings’ within the proposed Bonsall Unified SD, and the voter approved liability to pay the general obligation bonds of the Fallbrook UHSD would cease upon formation of the proposed Bonsall Unified SD. The consequences of this Education Code section on the remaining Fallbrook UHSD are important to recognize before approval of this condition as substantially met is considered.” [NOTE: The FUHSD bond/property taxes continued to be assessed on, and paid for by, District residents through 2018.] “A new high school located in the core Bonsall area would reduce distances students travel to and from school for students who live in east Oceanside and for some students who live east of Interstate 15. However, the current Fallbrook High School site is more accessible to residents in the south, north, and parts to the east Bonsall Union SD territory.” “The County Committee Study concludes that this condition is substantially met, stating that residents of Bonsall Union ESD’s western and core areas would be better served by a comprehensive high school located in that area, and community identity would be enhanced if the school also serves as a community center.” The report claimed Bonsall lacked a sense of community identity, one of the requirements for a unified district: “The core 13.5 square-mile Bonsall community covers approximately 18.9 percent of the Bonsall Union SD community. The greater Bonsall Union SD is more a part of the Fallbrook community area, and only Bonsall’s 13.5 square mile core area could be considered as a separate community.” Then-Superintendent Jeffrey Felix solicited letters from several organizations defending Bonsall as separate from Fallbrook in response to the claim, and the county Board of Education voted 3-2 to support the district’s expansion plan in 2007.” A State Board of Education report states, “At a meeting on December 3, 2007, the County Committee determined that the proposed unification fails to substantially comply with two of the nine conditions: increase in school facilities costs and fiscal management and status. The County Committee expressed concerns regarding whether (1) state facilities funding would be reduced because of duplicative seats; (2) the remaining Fallbrook Union HSD would retain sufficient bonding capacity to construct an additional high school; and (3) the new district would be able to offer salaries comparable to those offered by the Fallbrook Union HSD without a revenue limit increase for salary or benefit differences.”
2007: BUSD petitions the County for unification and a high school. FUHSD states it would lose $3,268,000 in state aid alone if the 517 students with Bonsall addresses, 17 percent of the population, were removed. “Although the Bonsall district plans encompass a small high school with a student population of no more than 1,000, the number of students living in Bonsall who attend high school has only grown by slightly more than 500 in the last ten years. Some say it could easily take another ten years before enough students ready for high school live in the district.” BUSD president Lou Riddle added, “We simply feel we can do the job better with our own kids in our own neighborhood.”
2007: FUHSD reports 3,000 students enrolled.
2007: BUSD issues Capital Appreciation Bonds to fund its building activities with principal of $2.6M (debt service of $11.645M over 32.02 years, exceeding the legal debt ratio of 4.0 and $2.9M (debt service of $6.7M over 25.02 years). Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs) became infamous when the Poway Unified School District’s borrowed $105 million with a payback of over $1 billion. This excellent article will help you make sense of CABs.
2007, Oct. 3: “Preliminary study negative of Bonsall’s plan for a high school,” San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “Among other things, the report states moving a chunk of taxpayers from the high school district to the Bonsall district would leave those still in the Fallbrook district with 48 percent higher tax payments on Fallbrook’s bonds.” FUHSD’s Superintendent “questioned whether a new Bonsall high school would be large enough to offer the same programs and instruction as the 2,900-student Fallbrook High. ‘They have to show that they can provide what we provide to the kids, program-wise, and with the numbers that they show, there’s no way they could do that,’ he said.” The report also stated BUSD “would have rights to a 50-acre parcel of land owned by the Fallbrook district off Gird Road.” Ignoring the report, BUSD’s board “voted to put a resolution on the agenda for its next regular meeting on Oct. 9 formally backing the unification plan.”
2007, December: A Report on the Study of Feasibility of Formation of the Bonsall Unified School District for the San Diego County Committee on School District Organization, prepared by Caldwell Flores Winters, Inc. Cardiff, California, recommends the Gird Road site be sold:
Real Property and Personal Property Normally Situated in Each District (Open and Operating School Sites)
The Fallbrook UHSD has no operating school sites within the territory of the proposed Bonsall Unified SD that would accrue to the proposed Bonsall Unified SD upon formation. However, the Fallbrook UHSD does own a 49.78-acre parcel, Assessor Parcel Number (APN) 124-340-34-00, which for the purposes of this study is considered an asset of real property and subject to valuation and division as an asset. Should the proposed reorganization occur, the parties could negotiate the ultimate disposition of this asset.
2008-09: FUHSD reports 3,117 students enrolled and braces for a decline and teacher layoffs.
2008: Average price for a 1,600-student high school in Los Angeles hits $70 million.
May 2008: Biological study by Ruben S. Ramirez, Jr. Research Biologist, Cadre Environmental, notes, “..large culverts are expected to represent the primary routes for successful arroyo toads movements between the San Luis Rey River and upland resources located north of SR-76. Arroyo toads were documented utilizing a large culvert near Gird Road to move between upland aestivation habitat and the San Luis Rey River during previous studies within the watershed (Personal Observation).”
September 2008: BUSD opens its $26M, “930,000” sq. ft. Bonsall Elementary School. The Village News reported that $17M of the cost was paid for by bonds issued with the balance coming from the State and the general fund, noting, “The school’s new grounds include more than 930,000 square feet of construction, which includes 45 classrooms, an administrative center, a multipurpose room which contains the kitchen, a large enclosed outdoor eating facility, a new library and a new hard surface play area.” The 930,000 must be an error. 93,000, perhaps?
2009: The San Diego Union Tribune reports a 2009 appraisal valued the Gird Road property at $100,000 an acre (approximately $5M total).
2009: BUSD negotiates a golden parachute which they call a”golden handshake” with Wayne Jones, assistant superintendent of business services for early retirement at the cost of a year’s salary ($130,000). Jones is replaced by former county employee Tom Krzmarzick.
November 9, 2009: Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive representatives Randy Goodson and Jon Rilling meet with Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District Superintendent Lou Obermeyer “about their proposed project which is located within the Valley Center-Pauma USD attendance boundaries.” According to correspondence submitted by Obermeyer, Mr. Goodson suggested “the school district pass a general obligation bond to fill the funding gap” for building new schools desired by the developer. Obermeyer explained “that the district has no interest or intent to ask community members to pass a bond to build a school due to the economy. I further explained that, due to declining enrollment in our school district for the past 7 years and the State’s current fiscal condition which has cut education funds significantly, the school district closed an elementary school in 2008.” Obermeyer reported that, “Mr. Goodson mentioned that, should the Valley Center-Pauma USD not build a new school, he would seek a change of attendance boundaries so students would attend school in a neighboring school district.”
November 16, 2009: FUHSD’s Superintendent Mitchell issues a Facilities Update that reports that, counter to the Long Range Facilities Master Plan prepared by PJHM in 2004, “large scale development has all but stopped and will resume only when the underlying global, state and local economies recover. District enrollment has essentially hit a plateau and, as of this year, has started a substantial decline. … Bonsall Union Elementary District continues to advocate for a unification plan, creating a K-12 school district in the future, while they are a K-8 school district currently. If Bonsall unification were completed, it would have a significant impact on Fallbrook Union High School District facilities and funding.” The report recommends FUHSD focus on building maintenance and compliance with the disabilities laws.
February 22, 2010 The audio recording of the FUHSD Board meeting [2:49:50-2:52:00] includes comments on making cuts due to declining enrollment and cuts from the states, followed by Item D.12, Status Report: Gird Road Property [2:55:15-3:04:30] by Chester E. Gannett who explained he’d put together a status report, with a 1.5 page handout, explaining that the Gird Road property is “a wonderful investment that the district made in 1967″ with a projected building date of 1977 for a “next campus,” followed by a “couple of bond proposals that came by to construct the second campus …in the late 80s, early 1990s… that didn’t pan out..”, property remains an “undeveloped asset for the school district,” but “not an unnoticed asset” because FUHSD had been approached by commercial developers and other governmental agencies about acquiring that property. Mr. Gannet reported that during construction, Golf Club of California (GCC) encroached onto about 1 acre of the land, about 2% of the district’s land, which resulted in the drafting of a licensing agreement, which moved through the golf course owner’s bankruptcy process to final agreement with the new owner for compensation for 24 months; FUHSD retained mineral rights.
September 13, 2010: An audio recording of a FUHSD Board meeting [42.46-1.30] states that the discussion is based on the findings in an informational report prepared by the Superintendent for the Board. The report explains: “The Gird Road site was acquired by the Fallbrook Union High School District in October of 1967. The purchase price for the property was $170,000, and was funded primarily be a three year bond, paid in full in 1970. The 50 acre site was projected to be the site of the second campus for Fallbrook High School District, and at the time of acquisition, the plan was to start construction at the site in 1977. Enrollment growth for the district did not meet these projections, and the site was left in its unused state until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when there were attempts to pass construction bonds to build a second high school at that site. These bond elections were not successful, and, ultimately, a bond was passed in 1994 to improve and expand the existing Fallbrook High School Campus. The Gird Road site remained unused. The District has determined that this site is not suitable for construction as a school site for three reasons: the current costs to modify the topography of the land, environmental impact mitigation, and proximity to the Sycamore Ranch development. In subsequent years, there has been interest expressed by both commercial developers and other public agencies to possibly acquire this land from the district.”
October 25, 2010: The Village News reports on a FUHSD Board meeting discussion about selling the site on Gird Road. The site, which was acquired in 1967 for $170,000, has triggered a State $50,000/year penalty fee on unused school sites, $1.3M in penalties since the fee was established in 1984. The Village News reported that “As it stands, the district has determined that the Gird Rd. site is not suitable for construction as a school site because of the current costs to modify the topography of the land, environmental impact mitigation, and the property’s proximity to the Sycamore Ranch development. … The Gird Rd. property is located within the Bonsall Union Elementary School District, according to notations on the board meeting agenda. If the Bonsall district is successful in its unification efforts …[BUSD] would take possession of the property as a result of asset distribution. If the property were to be sold, Bonsall would still acquire its portion of assets, but not in the form of property. It was stated that BUSD had shown no interest in acquiring the property which was estimated to be worth about $2.5M, or $50,000/acre.
November 2010: The Village News reports FUHSD wants to sell the Gird Road site and make a profit on it. “As it stands, the district has determined that the Gird Rd. site is not suitable for construction as a school site because of the current costs to modify the topography of the land, environmental impact mitigation, and the property’s proximity to the Sycamore Ranch development.”
December 2010: Randy Goodson of Accretive/Lilac Hills Ranch emails Lou Obermeyer stating that “Accretive has offered to provide (pay for or build) a K-8 school to serve our future neighborhood.”
2011 – 2015
January 30, 2011: After paying $50,000/year since 1984 in fees to the State of California for holding an unused school site, the FUHSD board moves to create a committee to officially consider whether the Gird Road site should be declared surplus, not necessary for the district’s current or future needs. This official designation as “surplus” would allow the FUHSD to sell the site. [This is an important point: During the time that FUHSD owned the Gird Road site, no school buildings or facilities were placed on the property. The property was never certified by the State Department of Education as a school site, nor does it fall under the Naylor Act. As a result, the property could be identified as surplus and sold without restriction.] The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the very same reasons the site was unsuitable for a high school (topography and environmental mitigations) are the same reasons the County wants to include it as part of the San Luis Rey River Park, a 6,000-acre open space with a network of trails planned along the river from Interstate 15 to Oceanside’s eastern boundary. “Mark Massen, senior project manager with the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department, said the county has ordered an appraisal of the land after receiving a ‘willing seller’ letter from the district.” “Even if the district did need the property, the site isn’t considered desirable because of its topography and environmental mitigations, according to an agenda report.”
January 2011: The woman who would later become campaign manager for BUSD’s $58M Measure DD (heavily funded by Lilac Hills Ranch) to build a 1,500-student high school in Fallbrook, Larissa Scors Anderson, publicly opposes the expansion of a Buddhist Monastery which would also include a small school and nursery. The public meeting is held at Bonsall Elementary School. It is reported that “Anderson, who lives near the monastery, said that during the construction, more than a dozen children on her street would have to stay out of the path of construction vehicles.” “I feel there is a complete level of deception,” said Anderson. “I see this as opening up… creat[ing] a whole infrastructure can of worms for Bonsall.”
February 2011: A letter from Superintendent Lou Obermeyer states that the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) development lies within the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District boundaries and could also lie within the Bonsall and Fallbrook Union High School Districts, that LHR’s 1,746 units could result in 800 new students. “The Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District insists that the applicant fully mitigate the cost for land acquisition, professional services required for planning, designed and obtaining state approvals, and the cost for construction.” The letter includes correspondence detailing conversation with LHR back to 2009 and is worth reading in full. It appears that, as early as 2009, Accretive/LHR began discussion with the Valley Center-Pauma USD about new school to be offered as amenities for its proposed Lilac Hills Ranch mega-development. Obermeyer explained, “To fully fund new school facilities in the proposed Accretive development, I suggested that Mr. Goodson consider a Mello Roos or CFD to fill the funding gap. Mr. Goodson’s suggestion was to the school district pass a general obligation bond to fill the funding gap. I explained that the district has no interest or intent to ask community members to pass a bond to build a school due to the economy. I further explained that, due to declining enrollment in our school district for the past 7 years and the State’s current fiscal condition which has cut education funds significantly, the school district closed an elementary school in 2008. … The Valley Center-Pauma USD has no intention to ask community members to pass a general obligation bond to fund a new school since current school buildings are vacant. … Mr. Goodson mentioned that, should the Valley Center-Pauma USD not build a new school, he would seek a change of attendance boundaries so students would attend school in a neighboring school district.” There is much back and forth in the correspondence with Accretive saying it had never paid for a school with a general obligation bond. At one point, a lawyer was engaged by the district to work out a school mitigation agreement but it appears no such agreement was reached.
February 14, 2011: Per State of California law, Fallbrook Union High School District establishes a Committee to Study the Gird Road Property with the “RECOMMENDATION: The Superintendent acknowledges that the Gird Road property is not an asset that is currently benefitting the district. However, the value of the asset, if sold now, may be considerably less than in a healthier economic environment. The Superintendent recommends that the Board of Trustees approve a phase one budget amount of $9,000 [out of a budget of $20,500] to support the creation of a … committee” to study the Gird Road property and notes that the expenses related to the property over the last five years have exceeded $285k plus another $13,500 annually for fire maintenance work. As per Sate law, the Fallbrook Union High School District Real Property Advisory Committee is formed (per February 14, 2011 recommendation) and consists of Chair Jack Wood, Vice Chair Lou Riddle (who has been serving on the BUSD Board since 2002), Jill Alperstein, Liduvina “Lido” Favela, Eric Jones, Felipe Jimenez, Sam Logan, Wilson Hatcher with Administrative Support by Kim Espejo, Executive Assistant to Superintendent; Committee Advisors Eric J. Hall & Bob Nicholson of Eric Hall & Associates, LLC. The Real Estate Advisory Committee held its first meeting on August 16 and reviewed its purpose: “to study data and materials regarding the property, the District, and the surrounding community. In turn, the committee will provide a recommendation to the District Board of Trustees, regarding future options for the property.” The committee held public hearings on September 6 and September 20 along with its meetings on August 16, August 30 and October 18 with a goal to present a report on its findings and recommendations to the Board of Trustees on November 14. All committee members signed form 700 conflict of interest reports and reviewed population forecasts and regional demographics for Fallbrook and the surrounding areas. The RPAC’s August 16, 2011 minutes state, “D. Real Property Profile — Gird Road site: … Currently, the District is paying a non-use assessment to the State of $50,000 annually for the property. The topography would make it very expensive to build a school on the property. There is a huge concern about the future use of the property for building a school due to environmental obstacles and traffic issues….” The August 30, 2011 minutes report: “It was noted that there is a valid concern regarding future traffic issues on Gird Road, due to planned housing developments and major road being constructed between 1-15 and Mission Road which will feed onto Gird Road. There was also a concern regarding the unknown status of possible unification of the Bonsall District and construction of a Bonsall high school, which would draw students from Fallbrook High School.” “The committee reviewed the Executive Summary of the Fallbrook Union High School District Long Range School Facilities Master Plan [by PJHM Architects]. It was noted that, should the District build a second high school, the budgetary challengers of operating both sties would be formidable.” The September 6, 2011 minutes state, “Mr. Nicholson [of Eric Hall & Associates, LLC] reminded the committee that, should the committee recommend the Gird Road property be declared as surplus, it would give the Board the flexibility to pursue other opportunities with regard to the property. It was also noted that the Board could still decide to build a school, if it so desired. At this point, the property can only be used for building a school campus. Additionally, each year the property sits with no activity or use, the district is paying a $50,000 annual ‘non-use’ fee to the State for the property.” “It was noted that, from review of Fallbrook’s demographics over the last 7-10 years, there was a 4.7% growth rate. Additionally, projections appear to indicate a possible 6195 increase in Fallbrook’s population, but that figure would be many years out.” “It was noted that, if the demographic projections are accurate, an increase of about 250 students over the next 10-20 years or so will not tax the current Fallbrook High School campus.” The committee took a straw vote on September 6, 2011 on the “question of whether the Gird Road property should be considered surplus” and it passed 5 to 0 with 0 abstentions. The September 20, 2011 minutes state, “…it was the consensus of the committee members that the property should be declared as surplus.” A report would be prepared for the Board of Trustees which would include “suggestions with regard to possible alternative uses for the property.” “Mr. Nicolson reminded the committee that, should the committee recommend the Grid Road property be declared as surplus, it would only be a recommendation to the Board and the Board would need to take action to accept the report and, subsequently, declare it as surplus on the advice of the committee.” On September 20, 2011, “Mr. Wood called for a motion to designate the Gird Road property as surplus real property. Mr. Riddle made the motion to designate the Gird Road property as surplus real property. The motion was supported by Mr. Logan.” The motion passed unanimously. At the October 18, 2011 committee meeting, the Real Estate Advisory Committee reviewed and accepted (unanimously) the findings of the committee, a report to be presented to the Board of Trustees’ November 14, 2011 meeting.
March 2011: It is reported that 25% of Bonsall West Elementary’s 450 students are transfers from other school districts.
November 14, 2011: The Real Property Advisory Committee (RPAC) report is presented, discussed [27:00 to 1:00:00], accepted (carried unanimously). The Report states, “District projections show an increase of about 250 students over the next 10 to 20 years and the current capacity at the high school could absorb this increase.” …Findings: The RPAC voted 8-0 to recommend to the Board of Trustees that the property be declared surplus, and acknowledges the site is not needed for school facilities. …. The current maximum capacity within the District includes 4,249 available seats and a current enrollment of 2,964.” [3,054 in permanent classrooms, 1,195 in modular.] The report recommended “the property be declared surplus” and “discussed the advantages of designating the property as surplus so that the District would have maximum flexibility, and keeping a long term lease as an option.”. The RPAC also reviewed information from the past long range facilities master plan developed by PJHM Architects.” Exhibit H includes Section II of a PJHM Architects report, the FUHSD Facilities Master Plan 2004 and states, “site inspections and field investigations were completed” at various sites, including Gird Road. It suggests trading the property “for an alternative site upon which to build new educational facilities.”Fred Good was the key consultant on the PJHM report. The RPAC Report’s Exhibit C is a May 23, 2011 appraisal by Tucker Appraisal Services with an estimated property value of $2.2M (subject to title report, soils report, engineering survey and maps portraying the Golf Club of California encroachment on the property and a phase 2 environmental report).
December 12, 2011: FUHSD Board of Trustees declares “District’s Gird Road Property as Surplus (A 3) On motion of Mr. O’Connor, with second by Mr. Cerda, the Board declared the District’s Gird Road property as surplus. CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. …Disposition of Gird Road Property (A 4) Options related to the disposition of the Gird Road Property were discussed. The Board will be asked to take formal action regarding the property at a future meeting date.”
2011: San Diego County General Plan includes the Gird Road property (which remained zoned A-70) within an area designated for potential public/semi-public use. The Plan’s Intro states, “The General Plan directs future growth in the unincorporated areas of the County with a projected capacity that will accommodate more than 232,300 existing and future homes. This growth is targeted to occur primarily in the western portions of the unincorporated County where there is the opportunity for additional development. Compared to the previous General Plan, this update reduces housing capacity by 15 percent and shifts 20 percent of future growth from eastern backcountry areas to western communities. This change reflects the County’s commitment to a sustainable growth model that facilitates efficient development near infrastructure and services, while respecting sensitive natural resources and protection of existing community character in its extensive rural and semi-rural communities.”
January 2012: FUHSD holds a library forum to get input on what the community feels should be done with the Gird Road site. The Village News reports, “There is no clear consensus about what to do with the surplus property on Gird Road, though several people said it should be sold.” Superintendent Dale Mitchell commented, “It’s going to take a little bit of time on all of our part to digest.” FUHSD January 2012 Board minutes commented, “On January 9, 2012, the Board of Trustees held a special Board meeting for the purpose in engaging the community in dialogue associated with issues impacting the District. Participants expressed their thoughts and insights on three topics: District priorities; possible areas for expenditure reductions, and disposition of the Gird Road property. The Board will consider the community’s input from this meeting as it makes decisions about District goals, the 2012-2013 District budget, and the disposition of the Gird Road property.”
January 2012: Bonsall Union School District Unification Initial Study And Negative Declaration is completed. It includes a charming photo of the old one-room school house and declares: “For many years, the Board has planned and implemented phases of changes necessary to encompass a comprehensive small high school into the future opportunities for the learners in the BUSD.” “The Project is a reorganization of school district boundaries to allow a new unified school district to offer students both elementary and high school educational services. No air quality impacts will result from such reorganization. In fact, there will be a slight reduction in vehicle miles traveled for those students who will attend high school in Bonsall at the Sullivan Middle School site because they will no longer have to drive the 8-9 miles from Sullivan Middle School to Fallbrook High School, which will slightly lessen overall automobile emissions.” “The Project may result in slight changes to existing traffic patterns as the grade levels accommodated at each of the BUSD’s schools are reconfigured to allow high school services to be provided.” There is no mention of the Gird Road site (which FUHSD had declared surplus) and states, “The Project will not degrade the quality of the environment, both built and natural. The project will not have significant biological or cultural resources impacts.” The form checks NO IMPACT for AESTHETICS for a through d: “Would the project: a) Have a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista? b) Substantially damage scenic resources, including, but not limited to, trees, rock outcroppings, and historic buildings within a state scenic highway? c) Substantially degrade the existing visual character or quality of the site and its surroundings? d) Create a new source of substantial light or glare which would adversely affect day or nighttime views in the area?”
February 2012: BUSD held a public meeting so “community members could be informed of the possible environmental impacts that would relate to a high school being established in the district.” Superintendent Cunningham insisted there would be no environmental impact: “The only thing we are really looking at is adding parking spaces on a portion of property that has already been graded. ..We are not disrupting environmental areas, as this has already been flattened. We are not truly going to have a strong environmental impact. At the hearing, nobody had anything to say about the impact because there is none.” The Village News reported, “If a high school is approved for Bonsall, the district would also have to offer a continuation high school. To meet those requirements, the district is considering buying property from North County Fire Protection District. ‘The fire district has a station next to our property on Old River Rd., and they will be moving to a new location. We would like to purchase the property to locate a continuation school there if we successfully unify,’ said Cunningham. ‘It’s not a new structure, so it’s not an issue of an environmental impact.'”
July 2012: California Department of Education (CDE) analysis notes that “projections indicate that the ongoing state fiscal crisis, declining enrollment, and increases in operating costs have affected Fallbrook Union HSD’s fiscal health but recommends that SBE adopt the Negative Declaration in that there is no substantial evidence that the project (proposed unification) will have a significant effect on the environment. Based on BUSD’s submission, the CDE determines, “The proposed unification action will not result in a significant effect to land use and planning as construction of new facilities on undisturbed land is not proposed. The new parking lot will be located on mowed grass at an existing school. The Continuation School will be located on property that currently houses a fire station. As such, there will be no division of an established community, and no conflict with applicable land use plans. There is no existing habitat conservation or natural community conservation plans that effect either the existing school sites or the fire station site. (page 16)… Parking Facilities will include additional 100 parking spaces are to be located just south of the current parking lot of approximately 100 spaces at Sullivan Middle School. (attachment 9) …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 first year after unification would include 9th graders at the site, the 2nd year after unification would include both 9th and 10th graders, etc., until after 4 years of unification all 4 grades of high school (9 through 12) would be located at the site. 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. (Attachment 6.).” “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. (At a meeting December 12, 2011, the Fallbrook Union HSD Board of Trustees declared the Gird Road property surplus.) (attachment 1)
[Based on this information, the County and State Boards of Education approve the unification and then, just a few years later, BUSD announces plans to build a massive school (150,000 sq. ft. plus 200,000 sq. ft. of parking) on the undisturbed land on Gird Road in FALLBROOK, land that was designated as surplus and which the County BOE recommended be sold. ]
The State Board of Education’s report on unification of the BUSD states several times, “The Fallbrook Union HSD governing board is not expressing opposition to the proposed unification at this time.” 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….[There is]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.” “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 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 report noted, “At a meeting on December 3, 2007, the County Committee determined that the proposed unification fails to substantially comply with two of the nine conditions: increase in school facilities costs and fiscal management and status. The County Committee expressed concerns regarding whether (1) state facilities funding would be reduced because of duplicative seats; (2) the remaining Fallbrook Union HSD would retain sufficient bonding capacity to construct an additional high school; and (3) the new district would be able to offer salaries comparable to those offered by the Fallbrook Union HSD without a revenue limit increase for salary or benefit differences.” The State Board of Education stated: “A high school site in the Bonsall community will reduce the travel distance for high school students that would have to attend a high school outside the Bonsall community. (See Section 5.2 of Attachment 1 for more information about this issue.)” The report’s 35-page long Attachment 1 states, “As summarized from the geographical description provided in the County Committee Study, the Bonsall Union ESD is located in an unincorporated area of northern San Diego County and extends from the eastern portion of the city of Oceanside to just west of Valley Center. The 13.5 square‑mile core Bonsall area is five to seven miles from Fallbrook High School and covers about 19 percent of the Bonsall Union ESD. The remaining 81 percent of the Bonsall Union ESD is in eastern Oceanside, northern Escondido, and Fallbrook communities. Observations of the County Committee Study include the following: With a new high school located in the core Bonsall area, high school students residing in Oceanside and east of Interstate 15 would have a shorter commute than they currently have to Fallbrook High School….” Source: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be//ag/ag/yr12/documents/jul12item21.doc, downloaded April 3, 2017
2012: While Bonsall is a small town of only 13.6 sq. miles, BUSD encompasses a much larger territory, running north of the 76, east of the 15 to the Pala Indian Reservation, to San Marcos to the South and Oceanside to the West. The San Diego Union Tribune reports BUSD covers “88 square miles and has two elementary schools, one middle school and one charter school. It serves about 1,800 students from Bonsall, Pala and parts of Fallbrook and Oceanside. …Building a high school for the unified district could cost $25 million and would require a bond, which voters also would have to approve, [BUSD Superintendent Justin] Cunningham has said.” Bonsall Union School District voters approve by 53% Proposition BB creating a unified school district, serving grades K-12. The Village News reports 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.” The treasurer for the Yes on BB campaign, attorney Scott Meisterlin,also worked on the Save The Downs campaign (an unsuccessful attempt in 2015 to save a Bonsall golf course) and states, “I was on the Proposition BB Committee which helped to create a new high school, at no cost to taxpayers, to help educational opportunities in the Fallbrook/Bonsall area.” As of 2018, Meisterlin is running for Congress as “a conservative and anti-politician.”
August 6, 2012: “Where borrowing $105 million will cost $1 billion: Poway schools.” After putting together a bond that will cost taxpayers almost 10 times what they borrowed, the Poway Unified School District has become California’s poster child for a form of exotic financing. By Will Carless, Voice of San Diego.
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). The BUSD plans are based on the demographics and character of the Bonsall community, and on projected growth. Grade levels at Sullivan Middle School would be reconfigured over time (approximately four years, one grade at a time). This phased approach will greatly reduce transition issues and effects on BUSD students and on the existing Fallbrook High School Campus.”
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.”
October 2012: Must read, extremely revealing correspondence between County school representatives and Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive developers about schools and financing for such, including Lilac Hills Ranch/ Accretive rep’s suggestion that taxpayers cover the 30-40% funding gap with a general obligation bond.
November 2012: Measure BB passes, approving unification (expansion to include high school programs) within BUSD. Three filings (A, B, C) reveal North County Taxpayers for Responsible Government, a Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive-funded PAC (Officers: Elizabeth Williams Jaeschke, Robert Daniels and Chuck Smiar, established October 2012, terminated December 2014), supplied almost $27k of the $29k contributed to the campaign. Elizabeth Jaeschke is a long-time backer of the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development. John Rilling of Lilac Hills Ranch also contributed. The Bonsall Teachers Association PAC opposed Measure BB/unification and supported candidate Eric Ortega for the BUSD board. When the PAC disbanded, the remaining funds, $2114.43, were transferred to the Bonsall Teachers Association. https://www.southtechhosting.com/SanDiegoCounty/CampaignDocsWebRetrieval/Search/SearchByAdvanced.aspx
2012: Building of a proposed Palomar Community College North Campus north east of Interstate 15 and Highway 76 stalls when it’s discovered the location is on an archeological site. The 85-acre site (with 56.5 acre footprint) would consist of 75,000 – 150,000 sq. ft. (plus parking), eventually 380,000 sq. ft. over several decades based on student enrollment level. Approximately 25 acres in southern portion of the property to be native area. It is stated that the projected Palomar Campus (currently located in San Marcos with satellite schools in North County) was projected to have 47,500 students enrolled by the year 2022. Palomar’s student enrollment peaked at 31,519 students in 2009, declining to 25,941 in 2014. Palomar Campus North’s EIR was completed in 2008 and references a 1996 County General Plan. Response to inquiries to Palomar about updates?: “We complied with the 1996 County General Plan (GP) regarding our June 2008 EIR; we do not need to update our EIR.”
January 14, 2013: FUHSD Board of Trustees Special Meeting minutes note Superintendent Micthell “indicated that the Board waited for the results of the Bonsall unification measure prior to taking any action regarding the [Gird Road] property. The property likely will be included in assets negotiations with the Bonsall District.”
February 26, 2013: The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approves the unified district within the boundaries of the Bonsall Union School District, officially renamed Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD). BUSD will have five locally-elected members on the Board of Trustees plus a Superintendent employed by the Board. “I look forward to serving the community,” Superintendent Justin Cunningham said on being appointed as the superintendent of the new unified district. The San Diego Union Tribune reported on the unification process noting, in May 2013, that BUSD plans to “create a high school, which likely will be housed at Sullivan Middle School.” In July 2013, BUSD Board visits Sullivan Middle School and the Gird Road site.
February 27, 2013: The day after the County Board of Supervisors approves Bonsall Union School District’s unification application, Bonsall Union School District (BUSD) asks Jon Rilling of Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive to assist in creating its Facilities Plan: “Hi Jon, Below is the link to a draft of the Solana Beach SD Facilities Plan. Please consider this info as *confidential.* However, it is a good tool or baseline we can refer to from a “what we’re looking for” perspective. It’s a rather large file and not all of the documents are needed right now. The components of the plan that I’d like to replicate involves the facilities projections and spreadsheets/charts with assumptions,etc…of needed facilities in the future. After you’ve had a chance to look at the document, give me a call and we can talk further. Thank you for your offer to assist us in this process. Best, Tom —————————— Here is the link to the file on our ftp site. This should take you right to it. http://www.hmcgroup.com/public/files/SBSD%20LRFMP%20Draft%203_5_13reduced.pdf — Tom Krzmarzick, Assistant Superintendent, Business Services Bonsall Union School District (760)631-5200 X1006″.
August 2013: BUSD sends a letter to the County stating, “…once an agreement between the district and the developer [Lilac Hills Ranch] is in place, the impact on the district from this development will have been satisfactorily addressed.”
November 2013: BUSD applies for $5 million in U.S. Department of Education Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB), administered through the state department of education. As part of the process, the district, is “contracting with a bond counsel firm [Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth] to assist the school district with legal proceedings, execution, and delivery.” Superintendent Justin Cunningham states they expect to pay an interest rate of 1 1/4 percent and, “We’re using it to upgrade the facilities at the middle school” and “to get the high school going at the middle school campus”.
The BUSD board voted 5-0 October 10 to approve a contract with Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth for bond counsel. The fees BUSD will pay to the Reno firm will be determined by the hours expended by the bond counsel’s personnel but are estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000.
“We’re talking about applying for a QZAB, a Qualified Zone Academy Bond, to get the high school going at the middle school campus,” said BUSD superintendent Justin Cunningham.
January 14, 2014: BUSD (Tom Krzmarzick) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) meet for talks.
February 13, 2014: BUSD (Justin Cunningham, Tom Krzmarzick) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) meet for talks.
March 7, 2014: BUSD (Tom Krzmarzick, asst sup) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) hold phone conference.
April/May 2014: Bonsall Union School District ceases to exist and on May 12, 2014 FUHSD quit claims the surplus Gird Road parcel (valued at $2M) to the newly formed Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) along with $2 million in cash. In April 2014, Superintendent Cunningham states the proposed high school will not be at Sullivan Middle School, but will be on the Gird Road site, adding BUSD may rely on donations and not a bond. The San Diego Union Tribune reports: “Trustees in Bonsall Unified have not yet decided where the actual campus will eventually be built, how big it will be or how it will be funded. Cunningham said a likely home will be on 50 acres of land off Gird Road where the Fallbrook Union High School District had once planned to put a second high school. The property is within the new boundaries of Bonsall Unified, and the high school district will deed it to Bonsall Unified at the end of the month, Cunningham said. The new school may be built to accommodate 500 students with the ability to expand to 1,000, he said. Besides transfer students expected to come from Fallbrook and Oceanside, Cunningham said the school must handle a population boom in Bonsall, which is expected to grow from about 2,200 residents to more than 5,000 in the next six to eight years because of planned development. Cunningham said the district may not ask voters for a bond to pay for its construction, but instead could seek endowments from affluent community members interested in investing in education.”
May 2014: Cunningham changes the message, “The Gird Road property is in a nice neighborhood. We could talk to developers about options, including trading the property for another that would better fit our needs.”
May 29, 2014: BUSD (Justin Cunningham, Tom Krzmarzick) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) meet for talks.
June 2014: The San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA) states that a June 2014 growth analysis and enrollment projection projected BUSD will double in size to about 5,000 students by 2020, with the Lilac Hills Ranch development of 1,700 homes contributing fully half of this projected increase. Bonsall High School opened in 2014 with 80 ninth graders, states SDCTA, adding a grade per year. [BUSD’s website states the actual number was 65 9th graders in 2014]. Another document says 64. SDCTA reported temporary classrooms were added as needed to accommodate growth and a two-story high school building was constructed on the SMS campus. SDCTA did add that most students preferred to attend a true high school facility, with less than half of the eighth graders participating in the new high school’s “high tech” model. Based on the near term projected number of residential units (3,000) to be built in the Bonsall area, the District anticipates receiving over 2,000 new students, concluded SDCTA. [NOTE: these projections were based on the large Lilac Hill development winning approval at the ballot box in November of 2016. It failed. However, since 2014, other developments have been proposed for North County.] CATE has written its own projection, possibly another 115 students by the year 2021. [In August 2018, Kristen Downey of calmui.com, Cal-Muni, counted 7,798 residential units for 2018-19 in the BUSD. With 7.798 units generating 328 high school students, 20% increase in housing units should generate an additional 66 students.]
August 2014: BUSD Superintendent Cunningham is back focusing on the Gird Road site and the school size has increased from 600 to 1000 student, with Cunningham explaining, “A separate campus for the high school will be built some day and Superintendent Cunningham says Gird Road is a likely site” and BUSD will accept “transfer students from Fallbrook and Oceanside and must be ready for a population boom … because of planned development.” Meanwhile, although BUSD predicted it would open its small high school in a new building (built by E-H Construction) at its Sullivan Middle School campus in Bonsall with 100 9th graders, the actual count was 69 students. “Enrollment was lower than expected, as a new school with no competitive athletic program can be a hard sell to families.”
2014: BUSD reports 2,287students enrolled. FUHSD braces for teacher layoffs as it reports 2,437 students enrolled, down 21.8% since 2009, a decline partially blamed on BUSD.
September 10, 2014: BUSD (Justin Cunningham) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling, Randy Goodson, Cassandra Costa) meet for talks.
October 9, 2014: BUSD’s board approves a $17,000 consultant contract for a five-year facilities master plan and a $6,500 contract for a high school site study, both with G. Wayne Oetken and Associates.
2015: Median cost for schools: elementary, 624 students, $211.55/sq. ft; middle school, 612 students, $242.96/sq. ft.; high school, 1,000 students, $235.29, approximately $50,000/student.
2015: CalTAN.org files a lawsuit against BUSD claiming the Lease-Leaseback (LLB) build/finance contract with Erickson-Hall Construction (E-H) for its high school at its Sullivan Middle School campus in Bonsall is an illegal “subterfuge to avoid the competitive bidding requirements of Public Contract Code” and that “the contractor is precluded from being awarded the Lease-Leaseback Contracts due to a conflict of interest that arises from its prior professional consulting services for the DISTRICT…” and that no plans had been filed and approved at the Division of State Architect’s office before the contract was awarded. BUSD launched a vigorous defense but the judge ultimately dismisses the cases on a technicality: the suit was not filed within 60 days of contracting, at which point the LLB contract had “self validated” and become immune from attack. BUSD wins by default. [https://roa.sdcourt.ca.gov/roa/: enter year 2015 and case number 00012596]
February 2015: BUSD reports 63 freshman enrolled in its high school and it is an “attendance boundary school” so students living outside BUSD boundaries “may apply for an inter-district transfer from their district of residence.” BUSD “previously was a K-8 district whose students attended high school in the Fallbrook Union High School District. The high school is currently housed on the campus of Sullivan Middle School, and the district is working on adding a two-story building for the older students by 2016. Plans call for a permanent high school campus nearby in the next five years or so.” The Sullivan Middle School campus can house 1,107 students and plans are to add 10 classrooms (270 students) in a two story building, taking the site capacity to 1,377 students on the Sullivan/Lilac Road campus. Construction of 10 classrooms circumvents the CEQA process (see Best Best & Krieger letter dated July 7, 2016, page 2, page 10 in attached pdf and page 30 in pdf which states the master planned enrollment will be only 633 students). The two-story high school building is presented as a minor addition to an existing middle school campus and is not identified as a high school (which would require far more acreage to meet state requirements).
March 2015: William Pickering II replaces retiring Tom Krzmarzick as BUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. Pickering was formerly a Financial Accounting and Data Systems Manager with San Diego County’s Office of Education.
July 2015: Dr. Cunningham sends a letter dated July 30 on BUSD letterhead to the County Board of Supervisors stating “We strongly support the Lilac Hills ranch development,” a 1,700 unit mixed use development proposed on 600 acres zoned for 110 homes. [BUSD board member Lou Riddle sends written support of Lilac Hills in August 2015 and Cunningham submits a second letter supporting Lilac Hills on behalf of the BUSD Board on July 13, 2016.]
July 2015: David Medcalf, BUSD Facilities Manager (formerly of Erickson Hall Construction), is included on a panel entitled, “Davis v. Fresno USD: Threading the Legal Needle” focusing on Lease-Leaseback law. The panel presented by California’s Coalition for Adequate Housing, CASH. CASH explains it was “formed in 1978 to promote, develop, and support state and local funding for K-12 construction” and its membership includes “over 1,500 school districts, county offices and private sector businesses including: architects, attorneys, consultants, construction managers, financial institutions, modular building manufacturers, contractors, developers, and others that are in the school facilities industry. …Since 1982, CASH has sponsored or supported over $61 billion in statewide school bonds to build and/or modernize thousands of schools.” CASH’s logo is illuminating. It’s newsletter is called The CASH Register. We kid you not.
Beyond bonds, school facilities debt is staggering: “From 2001 to 2014, California voters considered 1147 ballot measures proposed by K-12 school districts and community college districts to borrow money for construction via bond sales. Voters approved 911 of these bond measures, giving 642 school and college districts authority to borrow a total of $110.4 billion,” explains California Policy Center. “California voters also approved three statewide ballot measures during that time to authorize the state to borrow $35.8 billion. That money has supplemented local borrowing for construction projects at school and college districts, and the state has spent all but $195 million of it. That’s a total of $146.1 billion authorized during the last 14 years for state and local educational districts to obtain and spend on construction projects. All of it has been borrowed or will be borrowed from wealthy investors, who buy state and local government bonds as a relatively safe investment that generates tax-exempt income through interest payments. Current and future generations of Californians are already committed to paying these investors about $200 billion in principal and interest — a number that will grow as school and college districts continue to borrow by selling bonds already authorized by voters but not yet sold. And more borrowing is coming. In 2016 California voters may be asked to authorize the state to borrow as much as $9 billion for school construction [Prop 51 which passed]. More than 100 school and college districts may ask voters to approve borrowing a total of several billion more dollars. Officials at the country’s second largest school district, the Los Angeles Unified School District, claim they need more than $40 billion for additional construction and plan to ask voters to approve borrowing several billion in 2016. It is time to be wary. The California Policy Center believes that most Californians are unaware and uninformed about this relentless borrowing and the amount of debt already accumulated to pay for school construction. Most voters cannot explain how a bond measure works and do not get enough information to make an educated decision about the wisdom of a bond measure.”
Peeling back the onion, CASH is managed by Murdoch, Walrath & Holmes, M-W-H.com, which “specializes in public education governmental relations, consulting and association management” and describes itself as “school facilities consultants“. M-W-H clients include Association of California Construction Managers, Association of Two-Way & Dual Language Education, Californians for School Facilities, Community College Facility Coalition, County School Facilities Consortium, School Energy Coalition, School Facility Manufacturers’ Association and CASH (Coalition for Adequate School Housing). Murdoch, Walrath & Holmes “formed MWH Management Services (MWHMS) to expand its meeting and association management services”, work it does for CASH (Coalition for Adequate School Housing), as well as the Community College Facility Coalition, County School Facilities Consortium, School Energy Coalition, Association of Two-Way & Dual Language Education. If you are talking to any of these groups, you are talking to school facilities consultants/lobbyists M-W-H.com.
August 4, 2015: BUSD Board member Lou Riddle sends a letter supporting development of Lilac Hills Ranch. It states, “Good day, i write to you today in support of the Lilac Hills Development. Myself, wife, and three children have lived in Bonsall for 18 years and live close to the proposed project. I have attended several project workshops and seen the development team respond to the communities concerns. In addition to being an area resident, I am an elected member of the Bonsall Unified School District. I know first hand the many positive benefits this development will yield for current and future students for years to come. I strongly urge you to approve this project and sincerely hope that you do. Lou Riddle Owner Lou Riddle Construction email@example.com 760-732-3799.”
August 28, 2015: “New Fallbrook High School principal to lead restructuring,” San Diego Union-Tribune. Larry Boone takes over from Rod King. “In May, district officials unveiled plans to restructure the school into three separate learning communities, each with its own administration. They say students will do better — and feel more connected — in small schools of 650 to 700, where they will get more personal attention.”
August 30, 2015: Dr. Justin Cunningham’s salary, benefits and pension ($191,000 for overseeing a 2,300-student school district) detailed in San Diego Union-Tribune article, “Some superintendent salaries rising to the extreme.” While Superintendent Justin Cunningham signed a 3 year contract in 2015 for approximately $170k plus benefits. TransparentCalifornia reveals he was actually paid a shocking $281k in 2016, more than the Governor of California! It took SaveGirdValley.com six months and dozens of emails pushing BUSD to finally see the correct figures 2016 posted to TransparentCalifornia, in January 2018!
September 2015: Details on ownership of Lilac Hills Ranch included in East County Magazine article.
October 2015: With the old Vessels Ranch sale complete, the property is renamed Ocean Breeze Ranch. The 1400-acre ranch property is located adjacent to the Bonsall Unified School District’s main campus which house its Sullivan Middle School and its Bonsall High School. “The new owner is willing to work with the school district in whatever way they can,” promises project manager Pete Fagrell.
October 29, 2015: “FPUD approves Santa Margarita property sale, CUP final design,” by Joe Naiman, Village News. Note: The Santa Margarita watershed is the watershed for Gird Valley. See also notice from Fallbrook Public Utility District, “Final EIR / EIS for Santa Margarita conjunctive use project,” September 2016. Note: The EIR mentions various endangered species, including the arroyo toad (ARTO). See also: San Luis Rey watershed management area analysis, Oct. 3, 2014. See also: “The Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project, Dam Land Sale – bringing decades-old situation to closure,” by Joe Naiman, The Greater Fallbrook Area Sourcebook, May 1, 2017. See also: Fallbrook Public Utility District 2010 urban water management plan.
December 25, 2015: BUSD (Justin Cunningham), Lilac Hills Ranch (Randy Goodson), and Save The Downs (Jon Francell, Jeri Walz, Tom Tanton, Tom Kennedy, firstname.lastname@example.org) hold phone conference.
2016: BUSD reports 2,380 students (14% federal military dependents) at 5 sites: Bonsall High School, opened 2014), Sullivan Middle School (6-8), Bonsall Elementary (TK-5), Bonsall West Elementary (TK-6), and Vivian Banks Charter School (K-5). 200 of the students live outside the District.
January 22, 2016: BUSD (Justin Cunningham), Lilac Hills Ranch (Randy Goodson), and Save The Downs (Jon Francell, Jeri Walz, Tom Tanton, Tom Kennedy, email@example.com) hold phone conference.
February 2016: BUSD high school reports 137 students enrolled (73 in grade 9, 64 in grade 10) during the 2015/2016 school year.
March 2016: BUSD files paperwork to acquire the former North County Fire Protection District Fire Station No. 5. building and its 0.64 acres at 31403 Old River Road (APN 126-300-52-00). Fire Station No. 5 was relocated to Olive Hill Road in 2015.
March 2016: School facilities needs analysis. Prepared for BUSD by Schoolhouse Services and says the district has 116 classrooms. At 27 students per classroom, that is an enrollment capacity of 3,132 but the report states enrollment capacity is 2,839 students. [As of September 2017, enrollment was 2,554.] Also reports on special needs students noting, “The District has 59 SDC students. This equals 2.6% of students.” 2.19% of these are in high school. BUSD’s 2015/2016 Student Accountability Report Card (SARC) report states that 17.5% of its students have disabilities (far higher than FUHSD and the average school population, both at 13%). The report notes, “A majority of those employed within the District’s boundary will not reside in the District. We estimate that perhaps only 25% of employees will find their housing within District boundaries,” therefore 75% of BUSD staff live out-of-district. “The District contracted with G. Wayne Oetken & Associates to prepare projections of future enrollment from existing housing. (The information generated was included in “Growth Analysis and Enrollment Projection” made available June 9, 2014.) The report used the latest enrollment data available at the time (January 2014) and projected it forward. The report conservatively assumes only one year’s change in kindergarten enrollment (which happens to lower all future kindergarten enrollment) and projects cohort survival (without adjustment for trending). Its projection not including any enrollment from new homes constructed on existing lots or approved projects calculates the progress of the larger early grades over five years to result in an increase in enrollment in grades K-8 from 2,267 students to 2,752 students. Broken down by grades levels, elementary enrollment is projected to increase from 1,652 to 1,833 students and middle school enrollment to increase from 615 to 819 students. The estimation of high school enrollment is much more challenging, however, as another factor becomes involved. The transition of the District into a unified district will lead to students from the District’s middle school enrolling at the District’s high school. The District’s plan is to make the ninth grade available to students graduating from Sullivan Middle School in 2014 and then adding a grade each year. However, students still have the option of enrolling in the ninth grade at Fallbrook High School and many will choose to do so. The question is the pace at which students will choose to continue in the Bonsall District and the Oetkin report did not have the advantage of even one year of ninth grade enrollment. In fact, only 64 ninth grade students enrolled in the ninth grade in the District in the first year (September 2014). High school enrollment increased moderately in the fall of 2015. The new ninth grade class was up nine students, though only one additional student was added to the first high school class as it moved into its sophomore year. There are obvious reasons. With only a few students the new Bonsall high school program cannot provide the much broader educational and extra-curricular program available at Fallbrook. Also, many ninth grade students will have older friends and siblings already attending Fallbrook. Though we now have the advantage of two years ninth grade enrollment, it is still impossible to make a precise projection of enrollment in the Bonsall high school grades over the next five years. It is estimated here that enrollment of each incoming ninth grade will increase by 10 students above that of the year before (the second year increased by nine over the first) and that each class will increase by five students per year as it progresses through the three remaining years. This results in an enrollment in the high school grades of 426 students. In contrast, the earlier report, lacking the advantage of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school year ninth grade enrollment data, projected about 774 students in 2019.” [By June 2017, BUSD’s own projections in its 2017-2018 Budget estimated 337 for years 2017/18 and 2018/19 with only /352 high school students projected for 2019/2020.] In 2016. capacity at the Sullivan Middle School campus was stated as 1,107 students and then 10 classrooms (270 students) were added with a two story high school building, taking the site capacity to 1,377. (2017: Enrollment was 581 for SMS and 328 for BHS.)
April 2016: BUSD announces that the $6,500 Oetken site selection report evaluated 12 sites and eliminates all but the Gird Road site for failure on one or more negative factors. Oddly, Gird Road fails seven of the eight factors evaluated but the Oetken report still declares the Gird Road site the best site for a 1,500-student school. The Oetken site selection report incorrectly concludes, “With exception of the Gird Road site, all others lie along narrow two-lane roads with limited shoulders, presenting major traffic congestion and unsafe walking conditions.” For the record, Gird Road is a two-lane road with no sidewalks so traffic (vehicular, pedestrian) remains a concern.
April 2016: Reports on the Gird Road site note that groundwater was found at 28.2 feet. The site, as is most of California, is “located within a seismically active region” and about 10 and 11 miles from known active faults. Analysis of the report by a retired professional engineer follows: “The Leighton Consulting April 22, 2016 geologic report reveals that the natural geologic units on the property include: young alluvial and older alluvial flood-plain deposits with a thin veneer of topsoil. The Leighton report recommends certain site preparation and remedial grading. This excavation and recompaction varies from as little as three (3) feet to five (5) feet deep for pavements and playfields to five (5) feet to ten (10) feet deep for building foot print areas. Two story construction may require substantially deeper excavation and recompaction. The concept here is to tear up the existing flood plain deposits, condition them and compact them to provide a base suitable for construction. Note there is no attempt to get down to bedrock and the test borings indicate that this alluvial soil has a depth of more than 50 feet below the existing surface. A conservative estimate of the amount of dirt to be moved at the Gird Road site for construction of a high school facility is seventy five thousand (75,000) cubic yards, roughly six thousand (6000) dump truck loads.” (NOTE: The Ocean Breeze Ranch property located adjacent to the existing Sullivan Middle School/Bonsall High School campus in Bonsall is reportedly bedrock.)
April 2016: BUSD opens a controversial military-themed reading room in an unused portable classroom and stocks it with “high-interest” books, “books that the kids would love to have in the library, but we didn’t have yet”. What were they thinking, asks the community. Why are the best books being diverted from the library to the Ben Carson Book Barrocks, a pro-military reading room housed inside a public school?
June 2016: Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) continuing disclosure report, financial statements, for fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 and BUSD’s Annual Financial Report, year ending June 30,2016 states, “In 2016-17, the high school’s enrollment reached 226 in 9th to 11th grade.” The report explains the BUSD is pursuing strategies designed increase enrollment, “The District has the opportunity for growth at the high school if it can retain more of the 8th graders. About 40% of the 8th grades continue on with the District and articulate on to the high school. The District is addressing this with its course offerings. Bonsall High School now offers sports, STEM classes, and college classes through a partnership with one of the local community colleges.” The report also noted, “Unfortunately the District has also experienced a decrease in enrollment over the last three years in the transitional-kindergarten to 3rd grade span. This has been attributed to troop downsizing at the nearby military base of Camp Pendleton and its demographic profile of young families.” K-3 enrollment peaked in 2013-14 at 1,134 and dropped to 1,054 in 2016-17.
July 1, 2016: BUSD’s Superintendent Justin Cunningham signs a letter to Jon Rilling and Randy Goodson of Accretive/Lilac Hills Ranch which states, “This letter identifies the facilities and student mitigation measures that are currently anticipated to be necessary to fully mitigate for the new students expected to be generated by the development of Lilac Hills Ranch within the District.” It details a school to be built in lieu of Lilac Hills Ranch development fees later. “The Cost and/or fair value to the Project for the provision of the School Mitigation described herein and ultimately provided will be counted towards the Statutory School Fees obligation for the Project.”
July 13, 2016: BUSD Superintendent Justin Cunningham sends a second letter to the County Board of Supervisors stating,”our District strongly urges your Board to approve the Lilac Hills Ranch project,” a massive 1,700 unit housing development proposed for isolated and rural North San Diego County. Cunningham references a “June 2014 Wayne Oetken & Associates Growth Analysis and Enrollment Projection that projected Bonsall would double in size to about 5,000 students in the next 6 years,” projections based on Lilac Hills Ranch being built and supplying about half of the increase. [By September of of 2017, BUSD total enrollment was about 2,554 students.] The Lilac Hills development requires a bit of backstory. In September 2015, the County Planning Commission told the Lilac Hills Ranch developer, Accretive Investments, that if it wanted approval from the County Board of Supervisors, it would need to provide wider roads, emergency support, schools. Accretive agreed and then attempted to pass Measure B in the fall of 2016, asking voters – not the Board of Supervisors – to approve Lilac Hills Ranch’s development plans. Worse yet, the ballot initiative exempted Accretive/Lilac Hills Ranch from many of the conditions county officials wanted. As a result, Accretive/Lilac Hills Ranch was roundly criticized for attempting to dodge the County General Plan, a comprehensive document that took over a decade to create. BUSD Superintendent Cunningham’s July 13, 2016 letter to the County Board of Supervisors states, “..our District strongly urges your Board to approve the Lilac Hills Ranch project at its meeting on July 19 so that we can pursue our planned $75 million Bond measure on the November 8 ballot.” Voice of San Diego reported, “If Lilac Hills Ranch had been approved outright by the board, the school district could have increased the assessed value of its planned November bond [Measure DD] from about $55 million to roughly $75 million, Cunningham wrote in the July 13 letter. “A win on Measure DD would have allowed BUSD to ask the State of California for additional funds for building.”
July 19, 2016: BUSD Superintendent Justin Cunningham testifies before the County Board of Supervisors in support of Lilac Hills Ranch development which he states has agreed in writing to build a school. Cunningham says, “We need big, smart growth and from a stand point that we need to have someone who’s going to come in and build a school and that’s what they’re saying, and we’ve got it in writing that they will do that.” He talks about the importance a bond and how that passage of a bond will “elevate assessed values”.
July 2016: BUSD Superintendent Justin Cunningham admits to Voice of San Diego that BUSD strongly supports the Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) development, that BUSD has a non binding agreement with LHR to build a K-8 school but BUSD is happy to redraw school district lines and take all of the LHR students, an estimated 800 elementary students and another 300 high school students.
Summer 2016: Documents submitted to the State Allocation Board, which disburses the Proposition 51 funds, describe the construction of a high school on the Sullivan Middle School campus, calling it a middle school. The State Allocation Board noted that Proposition 51 funding for 2016 applications may not be released for another 3 to 4 years from January 2018. The documents state there are enough classrooms for 1,107 students on the campus and that the new building will add space for 270 more in 10 additional classrooms (total campus capacity 1,377). [There are 581 student enrolled at Sullivan Middle School (2016-2017). By 2017-2018, there are 328 high school students on the Sullivan campus, for a total enrollment of 909 on a campus with a capacity for 1,377 leaving room for another 468 students.]
July 2016: The Kunzman traffic study report for the Gird Road site stated, “The purpose of this report is to provide an assessment of the traffic impacts resulting from the development of the proposed Bonsall High School and Performing Arts Center (PAC) Project and to identify the traffic mitigation measures necessary to maintain the established Level of Service standard for the elements of the impacted roadway system. The traffic issues related to the proposed land use and development have been evaluated in the context of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).” The report states, “This two lane undivided roadway is currently classified as a Light Collector roadway in the County of San Diego Mobility Element and generally trends in a north‐south orientation within the study area. There are generally no existing sidewalks or designated bicycle facilities on Gird Road within the study area; on‐street parking is prohibited.”
A 2008 traffic report (p.246) estimated traffic on Gird Road at 2,550 average daily traffic (ADT) with a 2% annual growth rate and the Kunzman report also projects “Ambient Growth” of 2% per year (p.27), adding, “This is a conservative assumption since the ambient growth rate was applied to all movements at the study intersections. The ambient growth rate was derived based on the average growth rate per year noted in the Transportation Concept Report for State Route 76 (Caltrans, February 2016).”
In email discussions with BUSD Facilities Manager and the traffic report’s author we were referred to Figure 4 in the Kunzman report which sets existing (2016) pre-project traffic rates on Gird Road at 4,000-4,200 vehicles per day. Mr Metcalf said, “Traffic growth without project impact (estimates 2% background growth + assumes currently identified developer activity moving forward).”
The Kunzman report appears to assume that virtually all the students, teachers, staff, vendors are coming from the south and living within the BUSD even though about 10% of BUSD’s students and 75% its staff live out-of-district. There is no mention of weekend and evening traffic drawn from all directions to the Recreation facilities which BUSD’s Superintendent has declared will be available to the public or to the Performing Arts Center which we also assume will draw traffic from all directions.
The Kunzman report states, “With a start date of 2018, the “proposed project is forecast to generate approximately 1,950 daily trips…”(p.i) taking us from 4,000 to 4,200 vehicles per day in 2016 to a post-project average daily traffic load on Gird Road of 5,950 to 6,150 vehicles per day, a possible increase of 41.06% on the low side to 53.75% on the high side.
However, the author of the Kunzman report stated, “Figure 24 shows the average daily traffic volume including the project. Therefore, the projected post-project average daily traffic volume on Gird Road is 4,700 to 6,000 vehicles per day.” Oddly, this estimate at the low end is only an increase of 500 to 700 vehicles per day for a 1,500-student school. To simplify the discussion, an increase from 4,000 to 6,000 vehicles is a 50% increase in traffic on Gird Road.
The Kunzman report, however, concludes, “…the proposed project is forecast to result in no significant traffic impacts at the study intersections upon completion of SR‐76 improvements currently under construction for Existing Plus Project traffic conditions.” (p.i)
A traffic study released in January 2018 states: “Gird Road is classified as a Light Collector on the mobility element of the county’s general plan. The street ranges in width from 32 to 45 feet, has a striped centerline, and has signals at State Route 76 and at Reche Road. A traffic survey was taken on September 8, 2016, 150 feet south of Via Loma with 1,878 northbound and 1,819 southbound vehicles creating a two-way average daily volume of 3,697 motorists.” Using this number, a traffic increase to 5,950 to 6,150 vehicles per day is an increase of 61% on the low side to over 66% the high side.
August 2, 2016: The County releases an Impact Report detailing the costs to the public of the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development, to be built in five phases. The section on Schools is on Page 13 and states that under current General Plan rules, “At issuance of each building permit, a fee would be paid to the corresponding school district for each parcel.” But under Lilac Hills Ranch’s proposed Initiative (2016’s Measure B), “A school district or private school would need to purchase the site to build the school” and “if over time neither a public or private entity is able to obtain the site it may be considered for an alternative use”. On the same day the report is released, BUSD’s Superintendent Justin Cunningham testifies before the County Board of Supervisors for a second time (see July 19) urging the Board to approve the Lilac Hills Ranch development “today” and for the Board to “give us a turnkey school.” He explains that approval of the Lilac Hill development will help them with a bond’s assessed value so they can include a Performing Arts Center in its development. “We’re going to open that school of 500 students in a few years whether Lilac Hills is there or not.” Cunningham states he has signed a legally binding agreement with Lilac Hills Ranch. Jon Rilling, President of Accretive Development, testifies to the Board of Supervisors that Lilac Hills Ranch development is committed to providing a turnkey K-8 school and has a binding agreement with BUSD for K-8 school. Rilling states that BUSD has offered to serve all of the students within the Lilac Hills Ranch and that this will relieve Valley Center/Pauma Unified School District any responsibility to educate students from the Lilac Hills Ranch development. This can be done via a boundary adjustment (which Lilac Hills Ranch will pay for) so 100% of the students in the Lilac Hills Ranch development will be within the BUSD district. Randy Goodson, CEO of Accretive Investments also testifies on behalf of Lilac Hills Ranch development and clarifies that the Lilac Hills Ranch Initiative (Measure B) will only change the County General Plan, Zoning and Ordinances and does not attempt to assert authority over other government agencies (including school districts). Goodson confirms that they have entered into an agreement with the BUSD.
August 22, 2016: BUSD School Facilities Agreement for a Lilac Hills Ranch-built K-8 school for 550 students, signed by BUSD’s Justin Cunningham and Accretive Investments’ Randy Goodson, null and void should Measure B fail. Agreement with Accretive/Lilac Hills Ranch passed unanimously by the BUSD Board, August 22. Section 3.1 states that the price to BUSD will be the “fair market value of the School Site in Construction Ready Condition” and 3.2 notes that the site under discussion is not located within BUSD’s current boundaries and Section 4.1 commits BUSD to working with the developer for a boundary adjustment with Accretive covering the costs. Section 2.1 releases the developer from paying developers fees to BUSD and BUSD commits to accessing state taxpayer funds for building the project. [The agreement is dependent on the passage of Measure B in the November 2016 election which was rejected by 64% of the voters.]
August 23, 2016: BUSD holds the ribbon cutting ceremony for its new, state of the art high school built on the Sullivan Campus.
2016: San Diego County Taxpayers Association issues a report on Measure DD referring to a June 2014 a growth analysis and enrollment projection that states BUSD’s high school at Sullivan Middle School will reach its “capacity of 350 within two years.” The SDCTA report explains that the high school (grades 9-12) has been adding a grade each year and concludes, “Current facilities have a maximum capacity of 350 students that will be reached by 2017”. This does not count the use of any portable building in that capacity. BUSD has 124 classrooms, of which 30 are portables. As of March 2017 BUSD’s high school had 229 students enrolled in grades 9, 10 and 11 with 22.3% of those disabled (for comparison, FUHSD reports 13.8% disabled). As grade 12 was added, BUSD high school’s actual enrollment was 328 students in 2017-2018 with 22% disabled.
The report includes a budget (which does not balance, p.6, figure 1) that says the budget includes $600k for insurance and a CEQA study, with estimates prepared by E-H. The report notes that “Bonsall West Elementary [in Oceanside, E-H construction] does not have a sprinkler system and there are numerous electrical and plumbing deficiencies at each of the existing campuses,” most of which are E-H projects purchased with LLBs. The report adds, “Program cost estimates developed through estimates from local contractors and suppliers, with NO evidence provided that they had been professionally done, says the report.”
September 2016: BUSD opens a 350-student capacity, 18,000 sq. ft. “state-of-the-art high school” at Sullivan Middle School Campus, with a stated enrollment of 235 9th, 10th and 11th graders.
September 2016: The BUSD Board (5-0) approves change orders to the Kunzman traffic report and to clear the land on the Gird site using “mechanical removal” and goats ($33,500 with the Golf Club of California supplying water for the goats to drink, 300 gallons/day). “Cunningham expects Bonsall High School to have between 400 and 500 students in 2019, but he also expects new development projects within the BUSD boundaries to increase future enrollment.” “Fifteen years from now,” says Cunningham, “that could be 1,500 kids there,” and “We’re hoping a year from now we can start” building. With an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process to be completed before any building can begin, the use of goats to clear the land is questionable.
October 2016: BUSD Board Member Lou Riddle publicly pledges support for Lilac Hills Ranch which wants to build 1,700 homes on land zoned for 110: “Proponents of the measure to build Lilac Hills Ranch argue that the development would benefit the community as a whole.“My interest in the measure is as it affects Bonsall Unified School District,” Lou Riddle, president of the Bonsall Unified School District Board of Trustees, told SoundDiego. “Our district is expanding quickly, and Prop B would provide for a completely paid for K-8 school that would alleviate overcrowding at other school sites. The new facilities would allow us to better educate our kids.” Despite various criticisms leveled at the Lilac Hills developers, “they’ve been the only developer that’s been great to work with,” Riddle added. “In terms of ease and cooperation, they’ve been outstanding.” Lou Riddle, President, Bonsall Unified School District Board of Trustees, is listed as a supporter of Lilac Hills Ranch’s Measure B on the Voters Guide for the November ballot (page 39). Dr. Lou Obermeyer, Retired Superintendent Valley Center/Pauma Unified School District, signs on in opposition to B.
October 11, 2016: BUSD Board Member and President, and owner of Fallbrook Urgent Care and Mission Family Care, Dr. Timothy Coen complains that Fallbrook Healthcare District issued a contract without competitive bidding. “In 2014, with the closure of Fallbrook Hospital, the district offered an out-of-town urgent care chain (A+) a contract to provide urgent care services at a rate of $39,500 per month,” said Coen. “No RFP (request for proposal) or competitive bids were obtained.” Ironically, in December, BUSD would do the same with an Erickson Hall Construction Lease-Leaseback contract.
October 28, 2016: Initial California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Study by School Site Solutions, Inc states the Gird Road site has 48 total acres with 16.14 acres designed as critical habitat for the endangered arroyo toad and 1.25 acres set aside as jurisdictional waters (p.17-18) plus 6.3 acres required for ephemeral drainage (p.19), leaving 24.31 buildable acres. CDE’s “Guide to School Site Analysis and Development” states 25 acres could accommodate a high school of up to 600 students with no room for a Performing Arts Center.
October 2016: A Biological Resources Assessment for Bonsall High School and Performing Art Center completed by Hernandez Environmental Services states that “development of the project will impact approximately 24.6 of the 48-acre site” (p.14) even though 19.8 acres are to be set aside for recreation fields. This report details the overwhelming scope of the proposed project. With 150,000 sq. ft. of buildings and 200,000 sq. ft. of parking, it details what is the largest development in Gird Valley’s history, perhaps in all of Fallbrook, and states:
The Bonsall High School plus Performing Arts Center would provide educational facilities for grades 9– 12 with a maximum enrollment of 1,500 students. An estimated 50-60 teachers, aides, administrators, and other personnel would staff the high school at maximum capacity. The proposed project build out would result in approximately 140,000 – 150,000 square feet (sf) of building area, which would include permanent classroom facilities, administrative offices, media centers, and the Performing Arts Center. Recreational fields and facilities which will include community use are also proposed. The school site will also provide access to dance, band, exercise, and physical educational programs using the on-site fields. The proposed facilities and approximate building areas are provided below:
- Performing Arts Center Theater and Music Classroom – 33,500 to 16,000 sf
- Administration – 6,750 sf • Classrooms – 48,500 sf to 28,000 sf each, 84,000 sf total
- Media Centers/Library – 5,760 sf 6,500 sf
- Food Services and Multipurpose Dining – 10,000 sf 11,000 sf
- Recreational fields – 19.8 Acres
- Parking Lot and hardscapes (approximately 500 parking spaces) – 190,000 sf
- Bus Parking (5–8 bus spaces) – 10,000 sf
- Gymnasium, lockers and support functions – 19,500 to 25,000 sf
- Separate exercise rooms (part of the proposed gym) – 3,000 sf
In addition, a parking area for school buses would be included on the project site, contiguous to staff and student parking areas within appropriate portion of the school site for this purpose. Initially, it is anticipated that four (4) buses would use this parking area. Capacity would be provided for up to twelve (12) for special events or future busing needs. The recreational fields, Performing Arts Center, and other school buildings would be available for community use after school hours, weekends, and holidays. Security lighting of the building complex and parking areas is planned. Night lighting of the hard court surfaces is being considered.
November 2016: State Proposition 51, for over $9 billion in bonds to fund construction and maintenance of schools K-12 and community colleges, passes with 55.18% of the vote. The pro-development CASH-created coalition is very pleased. Additionally, $1.6 billion in school bond measures are on San Diego County’s ballot. Not all succeed as voters raise serious questions about value vs. debt. FUHSD residents approve Measure AA issuing $45M in bonds for upgrading Fallbrook High School classrooms and facilities and improving school security. It passes easily by 64.73%. BUSD residents, however, vote down the Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive/Erickson-Hall Construction-backed Measure DD to issue $58M in bonds to build a “state-of-the-art Bonsall High School” for $56.5M and for other purposes, Attempt #5 to build a high school on the Gird Road site. The estimated cost of the bonds to the taxpayer would be $105,751,981. While Measure DD did not mention the Gird Road site specifically, messaging by BUSD focused on the Gird Road site, making Measure DD the fifth time a high school proposed for the Gird Road has failed at the ballot box.
While Measure DD was entitled the “Bonsall Taxpayers for Schools, YES on DD campaign” no campaign contributions were received from any Bonsall taxpayers. In fact, there was not a single contribution came from any entity beyond Erickson-Hall Construction Co., Pala Band of Mission Indians Political Contribution Account and LHR Investment Company LLC (Accretive Investments/Lilac Hills Ranch) which funded the “Bonsall Taxpayers for Schools, Yes on DD” campaign. Highly vocal and visible spokes-mom Larissa Anderson (Larissa Scors Anderson) was actually paid and later posted on her Facebook page that she had been its campaign manager. Anderson uses Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/loonyqt, calling residents “curmudgeons” and the community vote, the fifth loss against building on the proposed site in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley, “selfish and short-sighted”.
Measure B, to allow Accretive/Lilac Hills Ranch to by-pass County regulations and build massive development in North County’s agricultural areas, fails big time with opposition of 64%. Lou Riddle, President, Bonsall Unified School District Board of Trustees, signed onto the Argument/Rebuttals in support of Measure B in the official Voters’ Guide.Dr. Lou Obermeyer, Retired Superintendent Valley Center/Pauma Unified School District, signs on with the No on B side. The No on B multi-lingual all-volunteer effort was heavily outspent and is ecstatic at its win.
November 2016: There is discussion at the BUSD Board Meeting on the failure of Measure DD. The Board is told it has spent $83,000 on the Gird Road site plus a contract for fencing and a survey. Responding to the question, “How long until BHS is at capacity in the 2 story on the SMS campus?” Dr. Cunningham replies, “Growth projections suggest BHS will reach 500 students in the 2019-2020 school year, if not before.” [By June of 2017, BUSD’s own budget projects only 352 high school students for 2019-2020 and, in September 2018, enrollment is only 344 high school students. Enrollment has dropped substantially (-77) at the elementary school level and is down District wide (-23) with the State of California predicting a long-term declining trend starting in 2021.] To the question, “How long is the approval process for a school site?” President Riddle replies that “DSA approval can take 8-15 years for school designation.” SaveGirdValley.com asked Ronald LaPlante at the Division of State Architect’s Office (DSA) the same question and he replied, “DSA does not approve school site locations. Our involvement starts when the District and Design Team submit construction documents after the site has been selected and the buildings are designed. For a new high school campus, we would usually return our comments within 6 months, depending on the number of buildings and complexity. If the design team returns the construction documents with the comments addressed in a timely manner, the drawings would be approved shortly thereafter. So, within 9 months or so after submittal to DSA, they could have approved construction documents to start construction….again, it depends on the complexity and responsiveness of the design team (architect, structural engineer, etc)., Ronald W. LaPlante, S.E., Supervising Structural Engineer » San Diego Regional Office, Phone 858.674.5461, Email firstname.lastname@example.org”.
December 2, 2016: The Village News reports that BUSD’s Superintendent Cunningham has announced the high school will go forward on Gird Road in Fallbrook but on a smaller budget and in phases until it reaches a 1,500-student capacity. The comments get heated and are worth reading.
December 2, 2016: “Bonsall School District citizens form committee to work with local school district,” reports The Village News, announcing the formation of “Citizens for Accountability in Taxation and Education” (CATE). This committee will represent concerned BUSD taxpayers by offering to help solve property site issues for new school construction and other areas of financial expenditures, including building cost containment, construction bid procedures, realistic student growth estimates and more.”
December 6, 2016: The BUSD holds a Measure DD Workshop to reflect on the campaign’s failure. There is no mention of the fact that Measure DD marks the fifth failure to fund a high school on the Gird Road site in Fallbrook.
December 6, 2016: Ocean Breeze Ranch (formerly known as Vessels Ranch) sends a letter to BUSD’s Superintendent offering 92 acres for a high school site. The Ocean Breeze Ranch property is located adjacent to and surrounds the BUSD main campus in Bonsall, 8 miles south of Fallbrook’s Gird Road site. The Ocean Breeze land, freshly tilled, is is clearly visible in this image with Lilac Road running to the I-15 in the background. Ocean Breeze offers the acreage to BUSD as a school site, no money down, payments to be offset via developer’s fees as Ocean Breeze builds new homes.
December 8, 2016: Ignoring the failure of Measure DD at the ballot box or the fact that plans are to be approved by the State’s Division of State’s Architect’s office before contracting for any construction work, the BUSD Board approves a Lease-LeaseBack Agreement (LLB) with Erickson-Hall Construction (E-H), moving forward on building on Gird Road. The controversial LLB arrangement would deliver a product valued by E-H at $20,459,251 (including pre-construction and site grading costs) requiring that the “District shall pay Lessor lease payments (the “Sublease Payments”) in the amount of Three Hundred Thousand No/100 Dollars ($300,000) for One hundred forty seven (147) months [12.25 years], and Nine Thousand, Six Hundred Twenty-four and No/100 Dollars ($9,624) for month One hundred forty-eight (148) months…” (p.6). The LLB does not detail the total amount to be paid or give an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) but $300,000 times 147 months, 12.25 years, is $44.1M. Assistant Superintendent William Pickering stated publicly [March 2, 2017] that the interest rate was 4.5%, then corrected himself saying it was 14.6%. The LLB states, “In no event shall the sum of the Sublease Payments due hereunder and/or any Sublease Prepayments exceed the GMP as it may be revised by the District from time to time in accordance with the provisions set forth in the Construction Services Agreement,” (p.6) and “A reasonable allowance for profit on the cost of the work on the Project performed prior to termination, provided Contractor establishes to the satisfaction of the District, that it is reasonably probable that the Contractor would have made a profit had the Construction Services Agreement been completed and provided further, that the profit allowed shall in no event exceed seven percent (7%) costs. In no event shall the total amount exceed GMP.” (p.17). Never mind the interest rate or guaranteed profit, BUSD could never cover payments of $300,000/month without passing a bond measure to pay off the debt. Additionally, the controversial LLB arrangements bypass the open bidding process and district residents have only 60 days to contest the agreement or it self-validates, becomes immune from attack, another controversial process.
December 8, 2016: Community volunteers issue The CATE Report: Needs Versus Wants In The Bonsall Unified School District. CATE stands for “Citizens for Accountability in Taxation and Education”. The report notes that there are several other sites that are preferable to the Gird Road site and offers enormous detail on the issue. It is a must-read for everyone in North County.
2017 / 2018: Adopted budget, 1st interim financial report, BUSD.
January 2017: BUSD’s high school at Sullivan Middle School campus reports 228 students enrolled (grades 9-11). New California law AB2316 regarding LLBs takes effect, allowing LLBs to continue but forcing schools to return to an open bidding process. With Paul Schumann of Fallbrook, Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive sues some of those who opposed it in the November election. The lawsuit is quickly settled. Retired Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District Superintendent Lou Obermeyer says, “After many attempts to get [Lilac Hills Ranch] to discuss mitigation fees it became apparent that they had no interest in paying for the school or increasing their required developer fees to pay for the school. They asked me to pass a bond to pay for the school and I said no, we had no interest in passing a bond and asking the community to pay for a school because so many in the community were not in favor of a large development. Unfortunately, they continued to move forward trying to get their development approved and Measure B would have been an end run for Accretive and they would not have had to go through the required approval processes and it would have resulted in a large development that the community did not want.” Related correspondence notes “Valley Center-Pauma USD closed an elementary school in 2008. Prior to building another school the elementary school would be re-opened.” Worth reading: This correspondence reveals Lilac Hills Ranch’s attempts to transfer the cost of new school construction to district taxpayers.
January 2017: BUSD administration asked members of the community to research high school building sites that would be acceptable to both local residents and the District. Over the next 5 months, many hours were spent researching properties within the District boundaries. (This report details the findings, all or in part of this process and was officially released to the Board on June 8, 2017.)
January 11, 2017: BakerNowicki Design Studio delivers its $1.2M design services contract to BUSD for a $20,459,251 high school on Gird Road.
January 13, 2017: On Ocean Breeze Ranch’s 92 acres adjacent to the Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall’s current high school, Superintendent Cunningham says they appear “to be a good situation for a school. There are a couple of things that we like it a lot for.” The 92-acre area would allow more recreational amenities than the 50-acre Gird Road site. “It would be nice to get some more regulation playing fields there,” said Cunningham.
January 19, 2017: Ignoring the loss of Measure DD in November of 2016, the BUSD Board approves expenditures of over $240,000 for pre-construction work related to the Gird Road Site: 1) $60,500 to $98,000 for an Environmental Science Associates (ESA) Professional Services Agreement for the preparation of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) or an Environment Impact Report (EIR), whichever is required (commonly called a CEQA study as required by the California Environmental Quality Act) and 2) $181,569 to BakerNowicki Design Studio for a “Notice to Proceed for the Schematic Design,” part of BakerNowicki’s $1.2M design services contract for a proposed high school on Gird Road. (See the Bonsall New High School schematic design , published in June 2017, here.) The ESA Services Agreement includes: Preliminary Site Planning and Programming – Baker Nowicki Design Studio; Biological Resource Assessment – Hernandez Environmental Services; Traffic Report – Kunzman Associates; Phase 1 ESA – Padre Associates, Geotechnical Engineering and Hazards Report – Leighton & Associates.
January 24, 2017: Kevin Carlin at the Carlin Law Group requests BUSD rescind the LLB with E-H and files a Public Records Inspection Request. BUSD declines. Carlin bases his request on the fact that the LLB construction contract was approved before CEQA/EIR was completed and before final plans were approved by the Division of State Architects (DSA) office as required by Education Code 17402.
February 6, 2017: The Carlin Law Group complaint moves to the court house as Complaint for reverse validation, declaratory and injunctive relief, California Taxpayers Action Network v. Erickson-Hall Construction Co., Bonsall Unified School District, et al., Superior Court of California.
February 8, 2017: On behalf of Bonsall residents, Kevin Carlin and California Taxpayers Action Network (CalTAN.org) file a lawsuit against the LLB with E-H (approved by the BUSD Board on December 8, 2016), just in time to comply with the 60-day requirement, before the contract “self-validates” and becomes immune from attack. [Please help with donations to CalTAN.org to support this effort!]
February 9: BUSD Board officially rescinds the LLB which E-H signed on December 8 and commits to complying with the new law AB2316 and directs its staff to move forward on the Gird Road site following the new law’s guidelines. Board Member Dick Olson requests a workshop on the new law and LLBs before the next step is taken.
Feb 16, 2017: San Diego Reader reports on the 2017 CalTAN.org lawsuit and points out: “In the case of Bonsall Unified School District, criticism over the lease-leaseback agreements and the potential conflict-of-interest issues intensified when it was learned that the district’s facilities director, David Medcalf, who was hired in 2015, was employed as construction manager for Erickson-Hall Construction Company in 2008; in fact, Medcalf’s LinkedIn profile states that he still currently serves in that capacity.” [As of June 2017, Medcalf’s LinkedIn profile states he currently works for BUSD and worked for E-H from Jan 2008 through June 1015.]
March 2017: BUSD’s high school enrollment declined from 235 students reported to the press in September 2016 to its website reporting 228 students (grades 9, 10 and 11) housed in a new 18,000 sq. ft. building (350 student capacity) located at the Sullivan campus. According to reports related to BUSD’s debt obligations filed March 2017, total attendance is/was as follows:
Therefore, average daily attendance for the new BUSD high school was 31.74 in 2014-2015, 133.12 in 2015-2016 and 218.37 in 2016-2017.
March 2, 2017: With only 24 hours notice, BUSD announces the Workshop on LLBs. Board member Lou Riddle appears comfortable with the LLB construction/financing vehicle and wants to combine the processes for Request for Qualifications (RFQs) (seeking interested contractors) wth a Request for Proposals (RFPs) to build. He is supported in this direction by Facilities Manager David Metcalf who previously worked for E-H. Dr. Sylvia Tucker prefers three steps: RFQs, finalized plans, followed by RFPs. The Board directs staff to issue an RFP that is non-site specific.
Superintendent Cunningham notes that with $58 million they were concerned they could not afford the Performing Arts Center but with the failure of the bond measure, the scope of the project is “much more pared down,” “very different,” a “reduced scope.” Assistant Superintendent William Pickering II adds that, “$50 million was hard traditional construction, two by fours and stucco. The $20 million, all we can get is portables, that’s it.” Pickering also notes (incorrectly) that the interest rate on the $20M project is 4.5%. The actual interest rate was 1.46% and Pickering has to correct this in a subsequent public meeting.
Board President Tim Coen expresses strong dissatisfaction upon learning that the Dec 8, 2016 Board-approved $20 million LLB construction/financing contract with E-H would have built temporary portable buildings on Gird Road. He states, “I for one am really not interested in putting portables on this site.” Similar sentiments are expressed by Board members Erin English (who states she would not vote for portables), Sylvia Tucker and Dick Olson.
BUSD Board member Erin English states she believes high schools enhance neighborhoods and BUSD needs to get that message out in order to pass a funding bond. Gird Valley residents in the audience who believe open space, rolling green hills, trees and quiet county roads also enhance neighborhoods, encourage BUSD to go enhance a Bonsall neighborhood with its high school.
There is no mention during the Workshop that the Gird Road site has lost 5 times at the ballot box. Even more surprising is that, even with a financial commitment from the community to build a quality project, and without the CalTAN.org lawsuit, BUSD’s vote on December 8, 2016 would have attempted to build a selection of temporary portable buildings on the Gird Road site!
The BUSD Board agrees that without passage of a bond measure, BUSD cannot afford to build a high school on Gird Road or anywhere else. And without community support for the right site, any project will bankrupt the school district.
A few minutes before the close of the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Pickering noted there was an outstanding commitment related to the Gird Road site for a $500,000 CEQA report. CATE asked him by email to clarify, along with the interest rate on the rescinded $20M LLB with E-H. He replied: “Thank you for asking and giving me the chance to clarify. #1 I stated the CEQA cost were about $500K, to be more precise the cost to get us all the way through the CEQA process in fall/winter would be about $500K. CEQA cost are estimated at $335k & pre-construction cost during that time are estimated at $256k both numbers can vary depending on what is found during the CEQA process. #2 You are right the interest rate is 14.6%, I was doing a quick simple interest calculation and had the wrong number in the denominator. I will clarify that mistake at the [March 9] board meeting” which he did.
March 9, 2017. Item 9.4 on the BUSD Board meeting agenda is a motion with four attachments to “approve RFP BUSD-410-07 and direct staff to publish and post the RFP in accordance with AB 2316.” The description explains: “On February 9, 2016, the Board unanimously voted to rescind approval of the Lease-Leaseback Agreement for Bonsall High School [specific to the Gird Road site] and give direction/delegation of authority to staff to re-start procurement process in accordance with recently enacted AB2316. District Counsel and the Director of Facilities have authored the attached draft Request for Proposals Lease-Lease Back Services for the Bonsall High School Capital Improvement Program. A component of AB2316 provides for Board adoption and approval of the guidelines and requirements for selection of the Lease-Leaseback firm on a best value basis. This includes the approval of the evaluation process set forth in the RFP that is to be used for the selection of the successful “best value” Lease-Lease Back firm. As discussed at past board meetings, the RFP’s scope of work will be contingent upon and subject to the California Environmental Quality Act review of the proposed new high school project which is currently ongoing. The need for the RFP at this time is to allow the District to obtain early pre-construction/design assist services and construction estimating from the selected Lease-Leaseback firm in order to maximize the potential improvements for the high school that may be designed and constructed given the District’s budgetary constraints. The RFP does not make any assumption regarding the ultimate site of the high school and such pre construction services will be needed regardless of the ultimate site of the new high school.”
As directed by the Board, the new 2017 Request for Proposals (RFP) “for construction services related to a high school” includes “EXHIBIT B – DESCRIPTION OF SITE, SEE ATTACHED DIAGRAM OF PROJECT SITE: [TO BE DETERMINED]” but includes on the front page a “Mandatory Pre-Submittal Conference: April 4 at 1:00 P.M. – 3800 Gird Road, Bonsall, CA 92003”. Gird Road is located in Fallbrook 92028 NOT Bonsall 92003.
CATE.org reviews the documents and notes “inconsistencies” in the package and that three out of four are site-specific to the Gird Road property. The Sublease Agreement does not mention Gird Road but the Site Lease Budget and Scope advises, “WHEREAS, the District’s governing board has determined that it is in the best interests of the District and for the common benefit of the citizens it serves to construct the Project by leasing to the Lessee land located in Fallbrook, California on Gird Road and referenced by the County of San Diego as Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) 124-340-34-00 at which the public improvements are to be constructed…” and the Construction Services Agreement for the Proposed New Bonsall High School) states, “RECITALS WHEREAS, the District intends to finance the construction of school facilities and improvements, including the construction and installation of certain improvements to be known as the PROPOSED NEW BONSALL HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT, on property owned by the District (Gird Road Property) (the “Project”); ….”
The Construction Services Agreement adds that the Estimated Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) “for the Project shall be $20,459,251 (Twenty Million Four Hundred Fifty Nine Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty One)…”.
March 10, 2017: Two BUSD Board Members, Dick Olson and Dr. Sylvia Tucker, go on record with The San Diego Union Tribune as being opposed to building on Gird Road.
March 16, 2017: The Village News publishes “BUSD moves ahead with plans amid protests” which reports Superintendent “Cunningham stated that the RFP is specific to the Gird Valley site and that (even though he’s talking about temporary portable structures) “the plan is to have architects design along the lines of the area to create a school design that will ‘fit beautifully’ in the area.”
Peter Kunasz of CATE adds to the Village News article, “Money from the state of California is going down, the amount on average daily attendance is going down, and at the last board meeting, they announced they were dangerously low on reserves. For both the school and community, Gird is a terrible project. A bond measure will likely never pass for Gird, and it will cost more money than they could afford to build a small campus that would need to be built on Gird.”
March 23, 2017: The Village News publishes “Bonsall Unified teachers begin negotiations with district” which concludes with a quote by Julie Urquhart Anguiano, vice president for the Bonsall Teacher’s Association: “We keep getting postponed, and not getting this settled, while every time we look at the district board meeting agenda’s packet, we see money being spent. Hundreds of thousands are being spent, and we can’t get a simple yes or no. It’s frustrating because the negotiations time is time away from students and our class that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We are a little tired of being treated so unfairly as money is being spent on so many different things.”
March 24, 2017: Multiple emails to BUSD (updated through June 13, 2017) asking if the March 9-approved RFP is site specific to Gird Road fail to provide a clear yes or no answer. CATE issues an analysis of the RFP package and determines that it does appear to be site specific to Gird Road and even includes a “Mandatory Pre-Submittal Conference: April 4 at 1:00 P.M. – 3800 Gird Road, Bonsall, CA 92003”. Yes, you read that correctly: according to BUSD, Fallbrook’s Gird Road is now in the Bonsall zip code. The US Post Office disagrees, placing the Gird Road site within the 92028 Fallbrook zip code which runs north of the 76 Highway. SaveGirdValley.com sends out an email blast which comments on the “site specific or not?” controversy.
March 2017: Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive (based in Escondido) representative Cassandra Costa is elected to the Bonsall Chamber of Commerce. [In October 2018, the Bonsall Chamber of Commerce is listed as supporting the bond measure (Measure EE) authorizing debt to build a large Bonsall High School in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce is not so listed.]
April 2017: A large sign appears at the site of Palomar Community College Campus North (which currently teaches classes, primarily in English as a Second Language in classrooms located at Fallbrook High School) at the corner of the 76 and 15 interchange. The sign states that Palomar is accepting enrollment for September 2018. There are no plans for the campus online, no news reports. Of course building at this site (at 76 and 15) will open up classroom space at Fallbrook High School and could offer space to BUSD’s high school students, begging the question: for a handful of students, does BUSD have to build anything at all?
April 25, 2017: While under pressure from teachers seeking a contract renewal and a community organizing to protect Gird Valley from a high school (after five fails at the ballot box), Controversial Superintendent Justin J. Cunningham announces he has a knee injury and will resign from his position with a goal of having a new Superintendent in place as of July 1. His compensation (salary plus benefits) package at retirement totals over $210k in 2015. The Village News reports Cunningham’s taxpayer-funded pension will be 80 to 85% of his salary. It is later discovered that Cunningham was actually paid over $281k in 2016.
April 28, 2017: “FUHS listed as a 2017 California Gold Ribbon School.” Village News. “Fallbrook Union High School was recently named a 2017 Gold Ribbon School by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Fallbrook’s public high school was one of 276 middle and high schools that were honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.”
May 2017: At a ceremony at Sea World, the Classroom of the Future Foundation honors a BUSD teacher and retiring Superintendent Cunningham with Innovation in Education awards. The Village News article notes Dr. Cunningham is a “sought-after speaker in the area of brain research, technology and learning.” Dr. Cunningham’s LinkedIn profile states, “Dr. Cunningham is sought as a speaker in the areas of brain research, blended learning, school improvement, and strategic planning,” and his BUSD bio states he is “sought internationally as a speaker in the areas of brain research, integrated curriculum, health education, and as a facilitator of strategic planning.” We attempt to confirm this and are seeking evidence that Cunningham has ever been paid to give a speech anywhere on any topic. Dr. Cunningham’s LinkedIn profile also states he “serves on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Science Alliance.” We were able to confirm that Dr. Cunningham served on the board of the San Diego Science Alliance in 2015 but the organization is no longer active since it merged into the Ruben H Fleet Science Center in 2016. While unmentioned, Dr. Cunningham also serves on the Executive Committee of the Small School District’s Association (SSDA) which honored him with an Outstanding Superintendent of the Year award in 2013. Ruling over this SSDA Committee is the SSDA’s Governance Team of Kevin Gordon and Jack O’Connell of Capitol Advisors Group. Capitol Advisors Group is as it appears to be, a financial and governmental affairs firm, focusing specifically on schools. Jack O’Connell is California’s former (2003-2011) State Superintendent of Public instruction. BUSD seeks community input (online) regarding a replacement along with a meeting on June 6.
May 1, 2017: “The Santa Margarita conjunctive use project, dam land sale – bringing decades-old situation to closure,” by Joe Naiman, The Greater Fallbrook Area Sourcebook.
“The Fallbrook Public Utility District was founded in 1922. A state engineer looking for potential reservoir sites identified one in Fallbrook in 1924, just after the district formed, and after World War II the FPUD board decided to pursue building a dam on the Santa Margarita River.
“During World War II the former O’Neill Ranch became Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and by the time a water rights settlement had been reached at higher government levels, environmental and funding issues prevented the dam from being built. The plans for the dam have been replaced with the Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project, and a finalization of a water rights settlement is expected this year as are the steps to begin construction on the Conjunctive Use Project.” … Read more.
June 6, 2017: BUSD Meeting seeking Community input on new Superintendent search at the Bonsall Community Center. Jon Rilling of Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive attends and states that he does not live in the district, has no children in school in the district but that good schools are an important amenity to their home buyers.
June 8, 2017: In early January 2017, BUSD administration asked members of the community to research high school building sites that would be acceptable to both local residents and the District. Over the next 5 months, many hours were spent researching properties within the District boundaries. This report details the findings, all or in part, and was officially released to the Board on June 8, 2017, to be officially received by the BUSD Board at its July 13, 2017 meeting.
June 2017: BUSD files a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for building 150,000 sq. ft. with 200,000 sq. ft. of parking on the Gird Road site, plus schedules a meeting on June 14 to discuss the EIR process. SaveGirdValley.com volunteers file comments on the NOP for an EIR on June 26. Jack Wood speaks, noting that the property is in Fallbrook, not Bonsall.
June 2017: An angry neighbor writes an Open Letter to BUSD published in the Village News about the No Trespassing signs and BUSD’s barbed wire fence erected on this property line shared with the property on Gird. Barbed wire fencing, he states, is not in compliance with the local fencing regulations and he threatens to remove it. The teachers finally get their contract approved, BUSD’s Board votes to spend more money on the Gird Road site (Tucker and Olson dissenting, outvoted by Coen, English and Riddle) and reviews budget cuts (Facilities Manager David Medcalf’s $173,000 salary is listed at the top of the list, just under transportation).
June 15, 2017: BUSD’s Board votes “to approve the purchase of new vans for special education transportation needs within the general parameters of Options 1, 2, or 3, not to exceed $147,000.” As of March 2016, the District reportedly had 59 special needs students or 2.6% of total enrollment but its 2015/2016 SARC report reports 17.5% with disabilities (far higher than the 2016 report or FUHSD and the general statistical average, both at 13%).
July 2017: Agenda for July 13, 2017 BUSD Board Meeting states, “The District has been deficit spending since the 2011/12 fiscal year, a total of six years; this structural imbalance of revenues versus expenses (unrestricted and special education combined) is an unsustainable trend. The year prior in 2010/11, the District had an unrestricted ending balance available for reserves of $4.0 million and total expenses of $13.1 million or 30.8%. In the transpiring six years, the ending balance available for reserves has eroded down to 5.3% which is above the legally required 3%. The multi-year projections show the District ending the 2019/20 fiscal year with an ending balance available for reserves of 0.4%, far below the legally required 3%. The District is in need of budget reductions of approximately $150,000 in 2017/18 and possibly another $100,000 in 2018/19.” A BUSD Budget Reduction presentation outlines the dire financial situation. The presentation includes this chart:
July 2017: Jack Wood speaks at the BUSD July 13, 2017 Board meeting. Mr. Wood currently serves on the Fallbrook Community Planning Group and served on the Real Property Advisory Committee which recommended the FUHSD declare the Gird Road property as surplus. Wood stated he agreed with the decisions made in 2010 when he chaired a committee process that resulted in Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) declaring the Gird Road parcel surplus. FUHSD transferred the land, plus $2 million, to BUSD during its unification process and both the State and the County recommended BUSD sell the property. BUSD ignored that advice and went to the community to fund a massive development. BUSD lost that ballot measure (Measure D) last November, the fifth time the community has rejected funding a high school on that site. Mr. Wood said the Gird Road site, “is not suitable for a high school. … So, I am here to speak … on behalf of Fallbrook because the constituents who are calling me repeatedly, all up and down the Gird Valley. … [I]t is not an appropriate location and I think it would be ill advised for this school district to continue to pursue that property for a high school.”
Board Member Dick Olson officially delivers the must-read Interim Property Summary and Evaluation for BUSD High School a report created by a group of community volunteers reviewing properties in the district and meeting five times with Assistant Superintendent William Pickering and Principal Lee Fleming over six months. Retiring (as of July 31) Superintendent Justin Cunningham insists it be recognized that he didn’t order this particular report and felt it was a “waste of time”. Sparks fly between Cunningham and Olson. The audience rolls its eyes. The BUSD board acknowledges receipt of the report. Additionally, volunteers created a video of the main properties under discussion, the Gird Road and Ocean Breeze Ranch parcels. Ocean Breeze due to its central location comes in first. Gird Road, just 1.1 miles south of the northern edge of the district is seen as a poor location and lacking community support since it has lost at the ballot box five times since 1978.
Board approves “Agreement Renewals” for legal services with CASH.-related legal firms: Atkinson Andelson Loya Ruud & Romo, Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost and Lozano Smith. [For more on the pro-development CASH, Coalition for Adequate School Housing, see entries for 1978 and July 2015.]
August 2017: BUSD gets a new superintendent in David Jones, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Voice of San Diego reported, “Jones led the district as concerns mounted over transparency. In 2013, someone – it remains unclear whether it was Jones or the school board – instituted a controversial policy to end audio recordings of school board meetings. [NOTE: BUSD does not upload its recordings to an online archive, another issue SaveGirdValley.com is trying to remedy.] A group of volunteers has launched the Transparency Project to record and archive the meetings. Vallecitos was also the last of 100 school districts to respond to a public records request for emails, taking nearly two months to respond after the final deadline had passed.” Jones signs a contract for $165k plus benefits even though a negotiated union agreement authorized $178k/year for the Superintendent. Why the contract doesn’t simply reference the negotiated rate is unclear. For more on salaries at BUSD, visit TransparentCalifornia. For comparison purposes, the previous Superintendent Justin Cunningham signed a 3 year contract in 2015 for approximately $170k plus benefits. However, TransparentCalifornia reveals he was paid a shocking $281k in 2016, more than the Governor of California!
September 28, 2017:The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and design information on the proposed high school for 1,500 high students is presented at a special board meeting held at the new (opened Fall 2016) 18,000 square foot 350-student high school located at the Sullivan Middle School Campus (current high school enrollment 328). Ten classrooms upstairs are designed to serve 27 students each, report Facilities Manager David Medcalf. The upper floor also hosts a large lab space the Principals office and a separate office for her administrative assistant. Downstairs is broken into additional large rooms/labs with a very large meeting space. The EIR is expected to be released in 30 days for a 45-day comment period. There is 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 and reported in the Initial CEQA study (October 2016) are mysteriously reduced to one. There are no plans to mitigate for any destruction of habitat. Julie Zimmerman of BakerNowicki Design walks the audience through the steps to complete prior to submitting to the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) for Proposition 51 Funding:
- Complete the Draft EIR and Submit for Public Review
- Respond to Public Review comments
- Finalize Environmental Impact Report
- Approve Site Selection – Gird Road or Other
- Commence Design Development Documents – January 2018
- Complete Construction Documents
- Submit Construction Documents to Division of State Architect for Review and Approval – October 2018
- Receive DSA approval – approximately July 2019
- OPSC places BUSD application on the unfunded list – August 2019
- BUSD provides District match using GO Bond funds or other financing
- Complete / Resubmit eligibility requirement forms that are required by the State to confirm present day eligibility
- State Proposition 51 Bond Sale provides State matching dollars
- 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.
October 2017: FUHSD considers issuing and selling $10 million in general obligation bonds.
October 13, 2017: With its EIR still underway, tor the second time in a year, BUSD uses hundreds of goats plus sheep dogs to clear the property on Gird Road.
October 16, 2017: “FUESD pays Allyn judgment in full” in wrongful termination and retaliation suit. By Lucette Moramarco, Village News.
October 2017: School facilities needs analysis. Prepared for BUSD by Schoolhouse Services and says enrollment capacity is 2,939 students. Total students enrolled in the district as of September 2017 is 2,554. In simplest terms, district enrollment was 87% of capacity, with room for 385 more students. Average Daily Attendance, ADA, numbers tell another story. K-3 enrollment peaked in 2013-14 at 1,134 and dropped to 1,054 in 2016-17 but actual K-3 Average Daily Attendance, ADA, dropped to just 938 and attendance for grades 4-6 has fallen substantially since 2014. Total ADA for the entire district was just 2,240.48 or just 76% of capacity. We do know that high school student enrollment rose in 2017-2018 (with the addition of grade 12) and, if we give BUSD the benefit of the doubt and say all 328 attended school every day, then that would be ADA for 2017-2018 of 2,350.11 or about 80% of capacity.
Using simple math, the report reveals the high school has 18 classrooms. With 27 students per classroom, that would be capacity for 486 high school students (enrollment 2017-2018: 328). 30 middle school classrooms with 27 students is 810 students (enrollment 2017-2018: 581). 124 class rooms would be 3,348 capacity.
Reality is lightly different, 2,939 student capacity, with 1,211 as the enrollment capacity for the middle school and high school (enrollment 2017-18: 909).
November 8, 2017: The San Diego Union Tribune reports Fallbrook Unified High School District (FUHSD) Principal Larry Boone has resigned abruptly, citing “urgent personal matters”. FUHSD “recruited Boone in 2015 as part of an effort to revitalize the high school, which had seen enrollment plummet by more than 20 percent from a high of 3,117 students in the 2008-’09 school year to about 2,000″ as of November 2017.
November 9 2017: Bond election experts advise BUSD to not attempt a bond measure in 2018 due to lack of community support. Dale Scott’s report detailing why not is informative but not included in the November 9 meeting minutes (9.1). We have asked BUSD to correct this. In the meantime, here is the report. BUSD establishes a Superintendent’s site advisory committee. BUSD board “approved a tentative agreement with the California School Employees Association including a 2 percent raise effective November 2017.”
November 28, 2017: BUSD (David Jones, Gina McInerney) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) meet for talks.
November 29, 2017: BUSD (David Jones) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) meet for talks.
December 2017: At the BUSD Board meeting President Timothy Coen says he attended a conference on passing bonds and that he is “absolutely” positive that BUSD can pass a bond in 2018 that the reason it failed before was that the voters did not trust the district. A diagram of the Sullivan Middle School/High School campus is included in the December board meeting materials. It shows 44 classrooms on the campus, each capable of holding 27-30 students for a total capacity of 1,188 to 1,320. There are currently 600 students enrolled at Sullivan Middle School and 328 at the High School, for a total of 928. The diagram shows three empty classrooms (classrooms 23, 14 and 18). As of February 2018, requests to BUSD for clarification on capacity vs enrollment go unanswered.
January 2018: After six months and dozens of emails to BUSD, Transparent California salary records for 2016 are finally uploaded correctly. Even though BUSD signed a 3-year contract in 2015 wth Superintendent Justin Cunningham for approximately $170,000/year plus benefits, BUSD actually paid him over $227,000 plus benefits for a total of over $281,000 in 2016 (more than the Governor of California!). [some key documents stored at http://www.bonsallusd.com/apps/pages/management] SaveGirdValley.com has asked for the details on the payments. At its January 11, 2018 Board meeting, the Board approves a contract with Isom Consulting, a subsidiary of Urban Futures, for a telephone survey. The contract includes other fees related to passing a bond but the Board decides to hold off on committing to those until the survey results are compiled and reviewed. The contract includes fees of $25,000 for first series of bonds, $65,000 for each bond after that (most likely for three bond measures for Phase I, II and III, approximately $30 per $100,000 of home value for each phase/bond (if passed), so homeowners should budget $90 per $100,000 of home value in taxes per year for 30 year term?) plus $3,000 per year for 30 years for filing paperwork ($90,000). Campaign costs come from contributions.
February 2018: Reflecting on the BUSD boundaries, which include the Pala Reservation to the east, it is noted that the area has 32 publicly funded high schools and charter high schools along with 15 privately funded high schools.
February 28, 2018: BUSD (David Jones) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) meet for talks.
March 2018: Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) returns, density unchanged. Now “under the control of a new development team, Ranch Capital LLC, and its subsidiary, Village Communities. Ranch Capital was a financial backer of the earlier version of the project headed by Randy Goodson of Accretive Investments. Goodson and Accretive are no longer involved. Key players now feature Larry Hershfield, CEO of Ranch Capital and Jon Rilling, previously of Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive is Ranch Capital’s project manager for the proposed development. LHR’s Draft EIR, open for public comment, states it requires a General Plan Amendment, Zone Reclassification, Major Use Permit, and Habitat Loss Permit. A letter to the editor states that BUSD was actively working to redraw their district boundaries to include 800 of the homes in LHR’s proposed 1,700-unit development (on land zoned for 110 homes). BUSD’s 2016 Measure DD (which also failed at the ballot box) received funding from Lilac Hills Ranch/Accretive, Erickson Hall Construction and Pala Tribe and zero from Fallbrook or Bonsall residents..
March 1, 2018 BUSD holds a “Community Collaborative Discussion” which draws about 60 people, primarily BUSD staff, parents and teachers pushing Gird Valley residents to agree to a $41M general obligation bond with $31M of that to build a large Bonsall High School in slow-growth Fallbrook’s Gird Valley at the northern edge of the district.
March 8, 2018 Financial woes are detailed in BUSD’s March 8 Agenda, Item 9.6. Seven years of deficit (in the red) spending, reserves dropping below legal limits. Seven candidates for open seat on the board (due to Erin English’s resignation), three hail from the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC) (Jeff Johnson, Brian Olson and Eric Ortega). Questions include what skills they will bring to the Board, whether they can give the time required for the position and if they will run for the board in November (whether they are selected or not). Candidates Michael Gaddis and Brian Olson say they will run and Roger Merchat states he filed the required paperwork for candidacy in 2017. Split votes result in a public discussion with President Coen saying he supports Ortega, praising his “big heart” and that he wants to strengthen ties with Pala. Dick Olson states he voted for Roger Merchat twice because of his engineering skills and financial acumen. No comment from Tucker or Riddle. Another round or two of voting and the Board starts to focus on what the candidates can offer between now and November, which is different from a two or four year term starting in November. The Board allows Julie Urquhart (SAC member, President of Bonsall Teachers Association) to speak and she states that since Brian Olson and Jeff Johnson are no longer being considered, the Teachers Association formally recommends Ortega. Ortega is appointed with 3 out of 4 votes, sworn in. Eric Russell Ortega ran for the BUSD Board, unsuccessfully, in 2010 (as an “an archival researcher from Pala“) and in 2012 (as a “broadcaster”). He works for Pala Rez Radio where he hosts Pala: Past and Present, has served as secretary for the Bonsall Education Foundation. He lives on the Pala Indian Reservation and, due to time constraints and commitments to his large family, he does not commit to running in November. He hopes to bring “culture,” “so everyone can explore their own heritage so that we all can appreciate each other’s differences”. SaveGirdVally.com’s Teresa Platt spoke asking the board to: as a courtesy, extend the 45-day comment period since the invite to comment was mailed to Fallbrook Community Planning Group at Live Oak School, the wrong address, signature required, refused and returned twice; archive recordings of all meetings/workshops going back at least 2 years (Transparency); commit to reducing BUSD’s traffic/accident/parking impacts, districtwide, by implementing Carpool/Rideshare/Transport App (Good Neighbor); announce to interested buyers that–for the right price under the right conditions–BUSD is a willing seller of the Gird Road property.
April 11, 2018: BUSD (David Jones) and Lilac Hills Ranch (Jon Rilling) hold phone conference.
‘April 12, 2018: BUSD’s Board called a break then returned and deviated from its stated objective on Agenda Item 9.2, “Board Discussion and Approval of Building New Bonsall High School Campus at Gird Road Site”. Instead it voted to “affirm” the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee’s Site Report (not included in the Agenda) stating Gird is the best site for a high school and to educate the public on why. Here’s our analysis of that report, created from a six-week process [direct link: https://bit.ly/2sObxYs] and additional comments (pages 15 and 16) on the inadequacy of such submitted during the Draft Environmental Impact (DEIR) process. The report listed Gird Valley as first choice for building a high school (key factor: BUSD already owns the property).
April 12, 2018 Jason List of Urban Futures presented results of a telephone survey of 400 voters. Yes, the answers went a little shaky whenever the Gird Valley site came up. The Board listened and heard from audience members who felt those opposed to a huge high school in Gird Valley were “selfish” and those who felt Gird Valley is worth saving from such a huge development (especially when a school on that site has been rejected five times at the ballot box). Others felt Bonsall should build its high school in the center of the district in Bonsall (as it was told to do so by the State and the County during its unification process), not at the northernmost edge of the district in Fallbrook. Several speakers worried that the Sullivan Campus in Bonsall (located in a moderate wildfire hazard zone) was dangerous but were pushing for building on Gird Road (located in a high wildfire hazard zone). Brian Olson noted that BUSD has presented a proposal for Gird Valley, a school for 1,500 students plus staff, that has only one exit/entrance, a point that is non negotiable for the community wherever any school will be built in North County. Traffic concerns came up over and over and over again. A 1,500-student school on Gird Road will generate a 73% increase in traffic and traffic is a concern on West Lilac and at all the BUSD schools but BUSD has made absolutely no effort to be a good neighbor and reduce its traffic, district-side, through the adoption of a carpool app. Community engagement came up but BUSD does not archive recordings of its meetings online so it’s impossible for district residents to really learn about the issues. BUSD’s Board called a break then returned and deviated from its stated objective on Agenda Item 9.2, “Board Discussion and Approval of Building New Bonsall High School Campus at Gird Road Site”. Instead it voted to affirm the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee and its Site Report (not included in the Agenda) stating Gird is the best site for a high school and to educate the public on why. Here’s our analysis of that report. Will there be a bond measure in November, Attempt #6 to build a high school on Gird Road? We still don’t know.March 19, 2018 Fallbrook Community Planning Group’s March meeting (Agenda, Item 5) on the Draft EIR for Bonsall Unified School District’s proposal to build a 1,500-student high school in Gird Valley in Fallbrook. Gird Valley neighbors 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.”
April 24, 2018: At a presentation at the Fallbrook Library, Mark Jackson of the Save Our Countryside Initiative reveals Lilac Hills Ranch-related entities had funded BUSD’s unification and the November 2016’s Attempt #5 to pass a bond to build a high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. BUSD is “influencing land use,” explained Jackson. “The Bonsall School District is warmly embracing increased sprawl development, any development, because it, they, need revenue. They’ve made a decision that they can’t fund. It’s that simple. For sure.” SaveGirdValley.com volunteers reviewed the History section of our website and, sure enough, there were lots of breadcrumbs leading from BUSD to Lilac Hills Ranch. So many that we created a new page: BUDS/Lilac Hills Ranch connections
April 26, 2018: At a Special BUSD Board Meeting, various people who attended BUSD’s Community Meeting and spoke, including Amanda Maldonado, who had called those opposed to a 1,500-student high school on Gird Road, “selfish”. She apologized, saying, “There is something that I just need to address first. Someone had brought something to my attention last week at the Community Collaborative Meeting. It was regarding my comment that, “If you don’t like the changes, then move”.
After thinking about it, I realized what I said was a little harsh and I shouldn’t have said that so I want to apologize and say that I am sorry.
There are a lot of emotions that are going on on both sides and I am sure that we can all agree on that. So here’s what I want to say to the Board.
I bought my home in Bonsall 10 years ago because of less traffic, the people, country living and the amazing school district. I cringe every time I drive by a new housing development. I hate that there are almost a thousand new homes being built here in the next year.
I fear that our quaint little town is changing rapidly and, unfortunately, we have no choice but to accept these changes.
This why we need the bond to go on the ballot in November. We need a high school that’s going to accommodate the incoming population.
Bonsall High School is going to be a tech high school. It’s not going to be a Fallbrook High School and that’s one of the reasons why I am so excited to have my children go there, because of the type of education they will get there as opposed to going to Fallbrook.
They need this because portables are just not an option. They won’t cut it.
So please listen to the community and the facts and please put this bond on the ballot. Please. Thank you.”
No mention of Mello Roos fees or the fact that builders and developers have been actively engaged in attempting to get District residents to accept General Obligation bond debt which benefits their bottom line and allows them develop raw land at a higher density than allowed by current rural zoning.
Bonsall resident/Burson-Marsteller Managing Director Christine Benton speaks, as does her husband web designer Todd Benton, with BUSD’s Parents Information Networking Group. Mr. Benton encourages working together to “really address concerns” so we do not “just have the people that live in Gird feel that something is being jammed down their throats.” He urged the bond be put on the ballot to “let the voters decide”, for the sixth time (voters have rejected the site five times since 1978).
Brian Olson noted that he voted no on the last bond measure (Measure DD) because he felt that it was “inappropriate,” that BUD had “inappropriate leadership ” and that “you guys were being misled at the time, I didn’t think it was right..” He’s stated he’s since changed his mind, after being involved in the site advisory group, but expressed concerns regarding unsafe parking lot and urged a second driveway for safety.
Joe Beyer spoke, recognizing that multiple bond measures would be needed to build the large hight school, that BUSD “needs money” and reporting that Mark Jackson had stated at the Fallbrook Library that “BUSD supports urban sprawl.with the Lilac Hills…”
[We have the tape recording, if you’d like to hear it.]
April 26-27, 2018 Special BUSD Board MeetingResolution amended and passed April 27 to build 1/3 of a high school in Gird Valley but does not mention the location will be in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley, 1 mile south of the BUSD’s northern most boundary. The amended version of the Resolution places a $38M (double that to include financing costs) bond on the ballot this November. Although Gird Valley is not mentioned anywhere in the document, just a few weeks ago, BUSD’s Board approved a site in Gird Valley as the preferred site so this bond measure would be Attempt #6 to build a high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. The Resolution states that this $38M will cover costs for housing 500 students (BUSD currently has only 328 student enrolled in a new high school, completed in 2016). BUSD is in the middle of the Environmental Impact Report process for the proposed school for 1,500 so the bond will cover 1/3 of a high school proposed for the northern edge of the district, “foot in the door money to allow BUSD to start grading and building in Gird Valley.
May 10, 2018: Even though it has not yet completed the legally-required CEQA EIR process, Bonsall Unified School District ‘s(BUSD) board approved (Item 9.2) to spend another quarter of a million dollars on the Great Gird Money Pit, Attempt #6 to build a huge high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley. This check, for $242,093, goes to Baker Nowicki for design development work. There was no 90 day notice and it appears the Board is using a cancelled Lease-Leaseback document (approved December 2016, cancelled after court challenge by CalTan.org February 2018) as justification for payment. The design development stage, says BUSD (which follows the schematic design phase which cost $181,569), “is where the District and the community will work collaboratively to incorporate the high school educational program requirements with aesthetic and functional design parameters.” Amazing. The community is working “collaboratively” to design a project the community has rejected five times at the ballot box and is still in the middle of its Draft EIR process. Price tag so far for design work for a site the BUSD Board’s wants but the community does not? $423,662. At the same time, BUSD’s are below the legally-required 3% minimum so budget reductions resulted in the termination of the Technology & Learning Coordinator (Craig Leach) and Facilities Director David Medcalf’ (last days May 31). Medcalf is the key contact for the Draft EIR. BUSD High School Principal Lee Fleming is leaving for another job to start July 1.
BUSD also included Item 9.5 which revealed Deferred Maintenance Charts of $1.4M through 2018, projected at $1.8M by 2021. However a report filed with the County Office of Education in 2017 detailed $1.6M in deferred maintenance as of 2018 and over $2.5M by 2021, $3M by 2022. This is in stark contrast to the $500,000 in deferred maintenance BUSD reported to the SDCTA.org in 2016 (to be addressed by the establishment of a modest $50,000 per year reserve).
May 25, 2018: KPBS reports Fallbrook Union High School enrollment has declined 30% to 2,000 students as North County high schools jockey for students.
June 2018: A commentary published in the Village News notes the strong relationship between Lilac Hills Ranch and BUSD’s High School, holds its first graduation for the Class of 2018, 56 students, down 30% from 80 in 2014.
August 9, 2018: Due to declining Reserves, BUSD Board approves borrowing $2.7M to cover operating expenses, including payroll, for Oct, Nov, Dec (10.4). Business Manager William Pickering explains that this has been a necessity for the last three years. Item 9.4 to change the ballot measure wording, as recommended by bond expert Jason List of Isom Advisors (a subsidiary of Urban Futures) is tabled for the next meeting.
The ballot language on the prior resolution read as follows:
“To improve the quality of education; improve safety and security on all campuses; construct a new high school to reduce student overcrowding; renovate/replace track and field structures and facilities; shall Bonsall Unified School District issue $38,000,000 of bonds at legal rates, levy approximately 3.75 cents/$100 assessed value, generating approximately $2,300,000 annually while bonds are outstanding, with annual audits, independent citizens’ oversight, NO money for salaries and all money staying local?”
The new ballot language on the proposed resolution is:
“To improve the quality of education; improve safety and security on all campuses; construct a new high school to reduce student overcrowding; renovate/replace track and field structures and facilities; shall Bonsall Unified School District issue $38,000,000 of bonds with interest rates below legal limits, with annual audits, independent citizens’ oversight, NO money for salaries and all money staying local?”
October 10, 2018: BUSD earns a spot on the State’s fiscally challenged list, where it is noted, “Qualified Certification: A qualified certification is assigned to a LEA [Lead Educational Agency] when it is determined that, based upon current projections, the LEA may not meet its financial obligations for fiscal year 2017–18, 2018–19, or 2019–20.” Main page.
October 30, 2018: San Diego County developments in conflict with the General Plan (including Lilac Hills Ranch) face court challenges over mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
November 2018: The Safe and Strong Bonsall Schools/Yes on Measure EE campaign stops calling itself “grassroots” as special interest contributions to pass Measure EE add up. Lilac Hills Ranch and Erickson Hall Construction are back, among others. Carl DeMaio interviews retired teacher/NO on EE volunteer Jan Patterson and names Measure EE, Attempt #6 to build a high school on Gird Road, a Zombie Measure because it keeps coming back from the dead. DeMaio is part of a growing coalition against Measure EE.
November 6, 2018: Attempt #6 to build a high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley, Measure EE, loses by a large margin.
BUSD President Timothy Coen gathers the fewest votes out of all the candidates for the school Board. The new board consist of Dick Olson who did not run in 2018, Larissa Anderson for the two-year term and, for the four-year term, incumbent and contractor/Lilac Hills Ranch supporter Lou Riddle, along with first time candidates Roger Merchat and attorney/real estate broker Michael Gaddis. For more on the candidates, read how they responded to our Candidates Questionnaire.
December 5, 2018: Just before Fallbrook Union High School’s Board relinquishes control to new Board members critical of high administrative salaries, outgoing board members approve a year’s severance pay to its Superintendent: $242,000.
January and February 2019: BUSD’s projected enrollment fails to materialize and the District is scheduled to fall below the legally-required 3% minimum reserve and faces budget cuts of over $300,000. Its disabled high school student category rises from 22.3% to 24%, almost twice the national and local average. BUSD remains on the State’s financially challenged list and Bonsall High School moves onto the State’s low-performing list.
March 5, 2019: Special meeting held at the Palomar North Campus located at the 15 and 76 where a joint campus proposal was enthusiastically discussed and fast tracked by the Palomar and BUSD Boards. This is not the first time this has been discussed. In 2012: BUSD stated: “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.”
The North Palomar Educational Center’s Environmental Impact Report (completed in 2008 under the County’s 1996 General Plan, never updated) is an 85-acre site which will eventually encompass 380,000 sq. ft. over several decades depending on student enrollment levels. Palomar Campus (currently located in San Marcos with satellite schools in North County) was projected to have 47,500 students enrolled by the year 2022. Palomar’s student enrollment peaked at 31,519 students in 2009, declined to 25,941 in 2014 and 23,848 enrolled (7,190 full time) in Fall 2017.
We encourage everyone who loves Gird Valley, Fallbrook and North San Diego County to please become involved! Thank you!
For more info, contact us at SaveGirdValley@gmail.com Thank you!