By Karen Billing
As the Nov. 6 election grows near, the Yes on Prop CC campaign is hoping to get the word out on the Del Mar Union School District bond by hosting community forums. The first forum was held on Oct. 4 and the second is upcoming on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Air Recreation Center.
“The choice is up to voters to consider the impact of Prop CC on the quality of education in the district and what that quality has on their property values,” said Suzanne Hall, the co-chair of the Committee for Quality Local Schools running the forums.
Prop CC is a $76.8 million general obligation bond, costing taxpayers $8.44 per $100,000 of assessed property values. For the average homeowner in the district the cost would be $65 a year.
The district plans to have a debt service ratio of 2.1 to 1 and recently passed a new board resolution and policy regarding the controversial use of capital appreciation bonds (CABs).
Hall said the driving force of the bond is that state funding has been on a continued decline for several years.
The district needs funds to implement its strategic plan, and upgrade and maintain school sites in the district. According to U.S. Census data, California spent $3.465 billion less on K-12 education in 2009-10 than it did in 2007-08 and the state ranks 35th in the country in per pupil spending.
The 2011-12 school year is the first time DMUSD will deficit spend in the amount of $2.39 million.
A strategic plan, available on the district website, maps out DMUSD’s maintenance and facilities needs that the funding from Prop CC would be used toward, Hall said. To name just a few, the list includes technology upgrades for all campuses; an early childhood special education pre-school; a heating and air conditioning system for the Torrey Hills multi-use room, which the students could have benefited from during the recent heat wave, according to Hall; and a significant modernization for the aging, 20-year-old Carmel Del Mar campus.
Tarps are visible on the school’s library where leaky roofs have threatened books and a major sewer system leak has resulted in damage to the blacktop and play fields.
Hall said the state used to be able to help with modernizing school campuses but it is no longer able to. The burden of modernizing schools falls onto the district and the money would have to come out of the general fund, which would likely result in cuts elsewhere, such as furlough days and increased class sizes, Hall said.
“Something would have to give,” Hall said.
One forum attendee wondered why the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association did not give its approval to Prop CC, while San Dieguito Union School District’s Prop AA and MiraCosta College’s Prop EE bonds were.
“They try to protect taxpayers from a bad deal but they don’t always get it right. They endorsed both of Poway’s,” Hall said.
Hall said that the Taxpayer’s Association did not allow the Del Mar school board to make a presentation, the district did not have an itemized list of projects at the time of the Taxypayer Association’s consideration (now, as mentioned earlier in the story, the district does have a project list) and the association had issues about paying for short-term technological devices with a long-term bond. Hall said that the devices represent a very small percentage of the $76.8 million, roughly $5 million but not all at once.