2018: Mark your calendars!
Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) Board of Trustees Regular Meeting Schedule, Agenda, Minutes, second Thursdays of the month, 6 PM, Bonsall Community Center, 31505 Old River Road, Bonsall. Arrive early and sign up if you want to speak. Please attend and video or tape record (smart phones work great). Thanks! Policy,  Board Bylaws.
December 13, 2018
November 8 2018
October 11, 2018
September 13, 2018 Unaudited Financials presented. Reserves were projected to reach 3.9% at year end but were 3.8%. Projections were overstated and budgets would need to be recalculated. 
August 9, 2018 Agenda. Not on the Agenda, but under the Superintendent’s Report, was a presentation by Richard Nowicki of BakerNowicki Design. It was on Education Specifications for the proposed high school, a template document that they’d forgotten they had in process with the previous high school principal, Lee Fleming before she took another job. Nowicki’s presentation consisted of a blow up of the .pdf , which was done in light type so impossible to see. It went on for 50 minutes. 
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. [Per the Agenda, 

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?”

This item will rescind the BUSD Resolution 18-07-01 and adopt BUSD Resolution 18-08-01, with the only change being the ballot language cited above.]

Item 9.5. David Jones did a PPT presentation seeking approval for 11 admin staff to attend a symposium on cutting edge teaching techniques in Long Beach Sept 19-21, two days, three nights, $16k including $2k for 11 cars (mileage and parking). No mention of room sharing or car sharing/pooling to save money. Board Members Dick Olson and Sylvia Tucker were concerned about, in the event of a shooting or fire, having ALL the trained administrators off site.
Sup. Jones said they would teach their subordinates that part of their jobs before they left. And when they return, Jones said he would teach the teachers how to teach with what he learned at the symposium, which is just Phase I of who knows what. What is the benefit to the district? asked Coen. Oh, said, Jones, a 10% uptick in student scores within 2 years. Unclear how they’ll track and measure that 10% and prove it is a direct result of a three night symposium in Long Beach in the fall of 2018 but SOLD! 

So 11 administrators, who no longer teach, will individually drive up to Long Beach to learn how to teach. To do this, they will have to teach the teachers how to administrate and then, the Superintendent promises he will use his new-found skills, learned in two days, to teach the teachers how to teach. From this we taxpayers will see a 10% improvement in student scores in two years. If this benefit is accurate, perhaps the Long Beach crew should hold an online session for teachers globally or come down and teach the teachers. For that, we might get a 20% improvement in student scores in one year. Did anyone ask for actual proof of such claims via independent studies? Nope. So off they go. $16k out the door. 

The rest of the meeting was similar. $$$$ flew out the door faster than anyone could count. Contracts for special education services: $73,960 for one student; $62,942 for another, etc, etc. Approved, approved, approved, approved……

July 12, 2018 After the departure of David Medcalf, BUSD seeks to approve a relationship for facilities management with the County Office of Education. See Item 10.7. It also has approached the SD County Taxpayers Association for endorsement of its bond measure and wants BUSD to add this language to the fall ballot measure: 

“In order to maximize community benefit and efficiently apply taxpayer dollars, the applicant shall demonstrate a good faith effort to pursue all practical opportunities to expand community joint use facilities in every new or expanded construction project. In pursuing joint use, the applicant’s goal should be to maximize the use of facilities to the broader community without adversely impacting operations or finances.”

June 14, 2018

May 10, 2018 Even though it has not completed the legally-required CEQA EIR process, 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. 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. Price tag so far for design work for huge 1,500-student high school for a school with 328 high school students on a site BUSD’s board and wants but the community doesn’t? $423,662. 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. At the same time, BUSD High School Principal Lee Fleming is leaving for another job to start July 1. 
April 26-27, 2018 Special BUSD Board Meeting Resolution 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.

April 24, 2018 Mark Jackson of Save Our San Diego Countryside spoke at Fallbrook Library on the Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) proposal. Along with Attempt #5 to build a huge high school in Fallbrook’s Gird Valley, the voters rejected the massive 1,700-unit LHR in 2016. But the developers are back with the same proposal to build over 1,700 units on farmland zoned for 110, a density not supported by the County General Plan. LHR is arguing that this is good for the environment. Mark shared a slide linking LHR to the unification of Bonsall School District, noting that key LHR people paid for the bulk of the unification campaign on the 2014 ballot. 

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 the school will be built. 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.” 

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”.’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. 
February 12, 2018 BUSD discusses survey questions with bond expert Jason List of Isom Advisors (a division of Urban Futures). 400 BUSD voters will be surveyed soon. 
February 8, 2018: BUSD released EIR for its 45-day public comment period, time, ending March 22. A special meeting will be scheduled for survey questions. After her resignation, Dr. Erin English’s board position is open. This board seat must be filled by March 19 via application processDr. Cunningham, who signed a $170k contract in 2015 but managed to take out an outrageous $281k in 2016, is seen leaving Board closed session.

January 11, 2018: While they were presented with a full contract for bond experts to work on passing a bond, board member Dr. Sylvia Tucker and Dick Olson argued to limit the work to a survey of district resident to see if they would support a bond measure in 2018. The measure was not defined but it is most likely another attempt (#6) to build a 1,500-student high school in Gird Valley. Tucker and Olson won the argument and the motion to pay $3,500 for a survey passed.  Agenda Item 9.4, the Site Advisory Committee (SAC)  Presentation, noted it was presented with eight sites and reviewed five, sites 4-8.  We’ve requested the SAC share the rankings for all eight properties, even ones that got 0s for whatever reason (concerns over lack of utilities or topography issues, etc). 

December 20, 2017: 4 PM to 8ish PM, Gird Valley neighborhood Holiday Mingle. This is a “more the merrier” event so all are welcome. We heard about progress at Monserate Winery, circulated a letter for signatures urging the County to fast track the Winery and met BUSD board candidate Roger Merchat. A good time was had by all! Best wishes for the New Year!


December 14, 2017: 6PM, BUSD Board Meeting included a lengthy discussion of the proposed Gird Road site, an update from the Site Advisory Committee, notice that the release of the EIR related to the property on Gird Road will be delayed until after the New Year. Board President Tim Coen expressed his opinion that BUSD could “absolutely” pass a bond in 2018 to build a high school on Gird Road, that the reason the bond failed was not the location of the proposed school but that the community did not trust the Board. 

November 9, 2017: 6 PM, BUSD Board Meeting Bond election experts explained why BUSD failed its bond measure in 2016 and how it would be impossible to pass the same bond in 2018. Community opposition for the bond (which was the fifth attempt to fund a high school for a proposed site on Gird Road) was noted as the reason.  The meeting minutes (9.1) do not include bond expert Dale Scott’s report. We have asked BUSD to correct this. In the meantime, here is Mr. Scott’s report. Superintendent’s Site Advisory Committee volunteers announced. 

October 31: Deadline for volunteering for Site Advisory Committee 

October 12, 2017: 6 PM,  BUSD Board Meeting, details on new Site Advisory Committee

September 30, 2017: CEQA/EIR Workshop  We learned so much about CEQA and EIR process. Thanks to Kevin Johnson and PCL for hosting!

September 28: 5:30 PM, BUSD Special Board Meeting, recording, presentation by BakerNowicki Design for schematics related to EIR for Gird Road, proposed high school/performing arts center site. Eric Ruby, working on the EIR noted that there would be no need for eminent domain related to widening Gird Road (29:45 and 31:00 and 32:00), there is enough room within the County right of way. Discussion of work to withstand legal challenge (30:00). Julie Zimmerman, Education and Funding Principle at BakerNowicki, outlined the state funding process, at 38:45 discussed design for new Bonsall Hight School at Sullivan Middle School and plan approval process, at 45:44, referring to the new high school at Sullivan Middle School campus, states, “We actually submitted it as Sullivan Middle School to preserve your high school eligibility…”

September 14, 2017: 6 PM, BUSD Board Meeting: Superintendent’s Advisory Committee related to school site approved (some on board expressed support for this committee’s work to include passage of a bond measure in 2018 even though the law requires such political work to be kept SEPARATE from such activities); Budget report notes reserves dropping to 3.2% in 2017/18, 1.8% in 2018/19, 1.6% in 2019/20, well below legally required 3% limit; more spending approved on the proposed Gird Road site; discussion of widening Gird Road (possible use of eminent domain?); impact on eastern side of Gird Road (least Bell’s vireo habitat); announced that draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), required by California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), expected to be released in one month for short 45-day public comment period. Are you ready? See our comments and please attend the September 30th CEQA Workshop! VERY IMPORTANT!
August 10, 2017: 6 PM, BUSD Board Meeting: New Superintendent David Jones spoke to the well-attended meeting. 
 July 13, 2017: 6 PM, BUSD Board Meeting:  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: 

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 2.53.56 PM

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. He gives background on why the Gird Road parcel was declared surplus (not suitable for a high school, decisions made that led to slower growth in Fallbrook than projected, traffic, community opposition to the site, etc). He cautions the BUSD Board that continuing to attempt construction on Gird Road is ill advised. 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 several 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. BUSD board acknowledges receipt of the report. [Volunteers also created a video of the Gird Road and the Ocean Breeze Ranch parcels.]

The Board approves “Agreement Renewals” for legal services with pro-development C.A.S.H.-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.]

June 29, 2017: Special BUSD Board Meeting, Agenda  BUSD’s 2017-2018 Budget projects a total of 352 high school students for 2019/2020 (in a 350-student-capacity high school on a campus that was promoted as suitable for over 500 high school students) along with dangerously low reserves.
June 26, 2017: Deadline for submitting comments on Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report on proposed high school on Gird Road. submitted Comments on NOP of EIR by SaveGirdValley
June 22,2017: Special BUSD Board Meeting, Agenda, which included votes on items tabled at June 15 Meeting regarding additional spending on the Gird Road site (Erickson-Hall services and Baker Nowicki design fees) . Vote taken noting protest by two board members (Tucker, Olson who believed the items were tabled until July regular board meeting and voted on without adequate notice) for additional spending on Grid Road site, approved by Coen, Riddle, English. 
June 15, 2017: 6-8 PM, BUSD Board Meeting, proposed budget with suggested cuts and discussion of Request for Proposals for Lease-Leaseback related to design and construction on Gird Road. Reviewers included representative from Baker Nowicki. BUSD AGENDA JUNE 15, 2017.  Vote on Gird Road-related spending items tabled until next Board Meeting [in July] to allow time to assess progress on Ocean Breeze property since BUSD has finally sent a Letter of Intent to the owners of the Ocean Breeze property adjacent to Sullivan Middle School.  A request for more money for an expanded traffic study related to the Gird Road property passed [Dr. Tucker votes no].  On June 15, 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 had 59 special needs students or 2.6% of total enrollment.
June 14, 2017 6-8 PM, BUSD “scoping meeting” [Agenda] on Environmental Impact Review (EIR) process at the Bonsall Community Center, 31505 Old River Road, Bonsall. Please review this Notice of Preparation (NOP) of the EIR and the Initial CEQA report for background info. Deadline for comments on the NOP June 26. 
June 12, 2017: Deadline for submitting comments on new BUSD Superintendent search. 
June 6, 2017,: 5-87 PM, BUSD Meeting seeking Community input on new Superintendent search at the Bonsall Community Center, 31505 Old River Road, Bonsall. Thank you to all who attended!
May 11, 2017: 6 PM, BUSD Board Meeting.
April 13, 2017: 6 PM, BUSD Board Meeting.
April 11, 2017: 6 PM,’s Steering Committee and Volunteers’ Meeting. 1909 Gird Road. See our PROJECTS list. Thank you for attending and for your commitments to help!
March 14, 2017: 6 PM’s Steering Committee and Volunteers’ First Meeting, 2915 Lakemont Drive. Thank you all for attending and rocking the house!
March 9, 2017: William Pickering offers corrected info on LLB of Dec. 8, stating that it carries an interest rate of 14.6%. Board approves moving forward with Request for Proposals (RFP) for another LLB construction agreement for high school. The Board directs the RFP to not be site-specific.
March 2, 2017: Special Workshop on LLBs and litigation, new state law re: LLBs, William Pickering notes Board is paying 4.5% on LLB, that it will deliver portable, 4 out of 5 trustees object strongly to portables and recognize that payments cannot be met without passing a bond.
February 9, 2017: Board reflects on lawsuit regarding Dec 8-approved LLB and rescinds the document.
January 19, 2017:
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