High school district board to vote on bond

By Karen Billing

The San Dieguito Union School District board will be making a decision at its July 26 meeting whether to put a $449 million general obligation bond on the November ballot. The money from the bond will go to support upgrades in the district’s nine schools, including a new performing arts center and gym for Torrey Pines High School, as well as the construction of a new middle school in Carmel Valley.

The San Dieguito district last went for a bond in 1971.

“It’s been 40 years and we believe what we’re looking at getting this district in very good standing for the next approximately 40 years,” said Superintendent Ken Noah.“We’re not doing this lightly. We want to put something on the ballot that is defensible and justified…a solid, wise investment in our schools and our high school district.”

The bond represents a maximum cost for taxpayers of $24 per $100,000 of accessed property values. The median home value in the district is about $600,000, which represents about $150 a year.

The idea to go after a general obligation bond is something the district has been working toward for the last four years.

The planning was set in motion in 2008, even before Noah joined the district. In his periodic visits to the district (before he became superintendent) it became clear to him that they needed to do a comprehensive long-range facilities plan and the studies began that fall (when Noah joined the district as superintendent). A task force of over 30 community members worked for nearly a year, ending in December 2009 and coming to the board with their plan in January 2010.

“At that time the plan went on a hiatus because of the economic conditions, but by the late summer of 2010 we brought it back to life and actually took comprehensive planning to a school by school basis,” Noah said. “We went through a similar process at the local level, refining the plans for each of our nine school sites, as well as looking at a new middle school in the Carmel Valley area.”

The planning work was completed in late 2011 and the district went to work preparing all the necessary documents with architects and construction managers, getting more specific numbers on details and a cost-analysis of the plan.

“It was an exhaustive process and our reason for doing that is we know we are going to be asking for public support for a significant bond,” Noah said. “It was important we do our due diligence in that so we can take something to the voters that is defensible and fully vetted.”

Some of the things the bond will pay for mark exciting changes for Carmel Valley schools.

The first of which is a brand new middle school, on the land adjacent to Canyon Crest Academy. The middle school will cater to likely 1,000 students as Pacific Highlands Ranch is built out.

“It will also alleviate overcrowding at Carmel Valley Middle School,” said Noah of the school which is currently at 1,500 students. “The opening of the new middle school will take Carmel Valley Middle down to 1,000 students, which is a more appropriate size.”

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