Five reasons to oppose the Del Mar school bond

Marsha Sutton
Marsha Sutton

By Marsha Sutton

Proposition CC, a $76.8 million General Obligation bond measure sponsored by the Del Mar Union School District, asks homeowners on Nov. 6 to approve taxing themselves $8.44 per $100,000 of property value annually.

According to the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the DMUSD proposes to issue the bond in five phases – in 2013, 2018, 2023, 2028 and 2033. The total debt service is expected to be paid off in 2058.

It’s costing the DMUSD about $13,140, according to the Registrar of Voters, to place Proposition CC on the November ballot.

Under the terms of a GO bond, the money can only be used for capital improvements and facilities needs. The measure requires 55 percent approval to pass.

Although there are more, here are five reasons to oppose this bond.

  1. The district openly admits its intent to use General Obligation bond money to offset general fund expenditures, in violation of the conditions of a GO bond.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association opposes Proposition CC, noting this reason in its key findings: “District has stated intent to use bond to offset General Fund expenditures.”

In a letter to the editor published in this newspaper on Sept. 20, 2012, Suzanne Hall, co-chair of the Yes on CC campaign, said, “As Sacramento continues to turn down the tap on education funding, the DMUSD finds itself in the same hole than many other districts have already succumbed to: find an alternate source of funding or make cuts that impact the classroom.”

Hall also wrote, “Though the funds from our bonds cannot and will not be directly applied to the salaries of the district staff, the money can take pressure off the general fund that pays for those classroom expenses.”

In a story in the Oct. 11 issue of this newspaper, Hall said the driving force behind the bond is that state funding has been on a consistent decline for several years.

“Another key component on the General Obligation bond,” DMUSD superintendent Holly McClurg wrote in an email in August, “is to relieve/insulate the general fund of the school district.”

At the Sept. 19 school board meeting, McClurg, in a presentation to trustees on the initiative, again said the bond money could offset general fund expenses. As an example, she referenced $600,000 spent on school fencing that she said could have been funded by the bond but instead came out of the general fund.

It’s hard to decide whether to give the district credit for honesty (that they openly acknowledge an intent to use bond money to bolster the general fund) or condemnation for dishonesty (that doing this is illegal).

  1. Programs funded by a GO bond should be for immediate, critical facilities needs.

A General Obligation bond is not a wish-list for projects that would be nice to have, such as allocating $6 million for a special education preschool as the DMUSD plan states.

It’s also not for undefined problems that might happen in the future.

According to district figures, enrollment as of June 2012 was 4,401 and in September was 4,302 – 100 fewer students. Demographic studies show this trend continuing for a number of years. There is no shortage of seats in the district, which is currently experiencing declining enrollment.

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