Encinitas district exploring how to use Pacific View funds

The Encinitas Union School District recently sold the Pacific View property to the city of Encinitas for $10 million. Now, the district is exploring how to use the funds.

Under a draft district plan, $5 million would go toward school upgrades and energy projects, and the other half would be invested in bonds to pay for future technology upgrades.

The district board is slated to weigh in on the draft proposal at its next regular board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at the district’s office, 101 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road, Encinitas.

“The board will make that final decision,” Superintendent Tim Baird said.

Baird said investing $5 million in bonds could generate an annual rate of return of 3 or 4 percent over 25 years, potentially four times higher than the alternative of placing the money in the district’s general fund.

The district’s draft plan calls for annual bond returns to be spent on new technology.

“Every five to seven years you’re replacing iPads, or computers or teacher tools,” Baird said.

Baird said it has been nearly five years since the district purchased the first batch of iPads for students, and it’s starting to replace older iPads that can’t run newer software programs. After a series of iPad rollouts, all students in the K-6 district have an iPad, paid for by the Proposition P bond measure passed by Encinitas voters in 2010.

Proposition P and other revenue sources will pay for most planned school upgrades, but the remaining $5 million in Pacific View money could fill in infrastructure funding gaps, Baird said.

Before deciding just which funds are spent and on what projects, the district needs concrete cost estimates for the upgrades, he added.

“Pacific View is sort of our safety net,” Baird said.

The district is looking to modernize classrooms at its nine schools, install solar panels, put in new heating and air conditioning systems, add modular classrooms at Ocean Knoll Elementary and Capri Elementary, upgrade bathrooms and more.

The State Allocation Board, which oversees school districts’ construction funds, approved the Encinitas district transferring the Pacific View funds into its general fund nearly two months ago. If that transfer had been denied, the money could have only gone toward building new facilities or fixing up old ones.

Last year, the district planned to auction the former elementary-school property to the highest bidder, after a number of proposals for Pacific View fell through over the years. However, the city swooped in at the eleventh hour and bought the 2.8-acre site, at 608 Third Street in downtown Encinitas.

An Encinitas City Council subcommittee will soon review citizen groups’ proposals for converting the property into a community gathering space.

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