Letters to the editor (Sept. 16)

Proposed Cardiff School Bond is a $46 million taxpayer rip-off

The proposed $22 million Cardiff Elementary School Bond is absolutely unnecessary and, with principle and interest, a $46 million taxpayer rip-off. It is not about helping Cardiff kids and their education, it appears to be all about money.

The Cardiff School District claims that the permanent classrooms and support facilities in Cardiff Elementary School are 50 to 60 years old, don’t meet 21st century educational standards and must be replaced. The district also asserts that the 12 portable classrooms at the Cardiff and Ada Harris School sites have problems and should go. 

Now for the rest of the story.

The district has 106 employees but only 716 students (1 staff for every 6.8 students) from 535 households out of a total of 5,000 in the entire district.

What the district does not say is that the buildings it wants to tear down were modernized, at great taxpayer expense, as a part of a 2000 school bond. A bond that, if the district has its way, property owners will still have to make payments on for nine more years after these buildings are destroyed and hauled away.

The updated Cardiff buildings, when accepted by the district and put into use, met all current building and earthquake codes and the district’s strict educational requirements. They were built to the highest standards and are still structurally sound and fully functional.

Window frames are rusty and some roofs do leak. Sadly, these two difficulties were to be corrected as a part of the 2000 bond project, but the district chose to exclude them. Incredibly, the district has had sufficient money to correct these problems, plus termite treatment, in its deferred maintenance account for 13 years but failed to do so.

The 12 portable classrooms should go, but there is no need to replace them since the district is 30 percent overbuilt and classroom space is readily available without them.

The district determined that over the next five years, it needed to spend approximately $2 million on building repairs and maintenance. This was a problem because instead of setting aside $799,000 annually as recommended by its consultant and necessary, it only budgeted $135,000. 

The district’s solution was simple, instead of dipping into its operating budget for the $2 million to repair the facility, it decided without apprehension or empathy, to ask property owners/taxpayers to commit to paying $46 million in new taxes over the next 30 years. A school board member coldly stressed that since interest rates are low, now was the time for another bond.

Cardiff is one of the six wealthiest school districts in the county and has more than sufficient income each year to cover its operational and facilities maintenance costs. The district’s problems revolve around spending priorities, not a shortage of money.

If this bond passes, students will not benefit to any great degree but school administrators will get the new buildings they want; employees probably will get a salary increase (San Dieguito High employees got 12.5 percent after its bond passed); bond consultants, providers and purchasers will get $24 million; contractors, architects and engineers will get $22 million — and the taxpayers/property owners will get the bill.

Please vote no on Measure GG, the Cardiff Elementary Capital Improvement Bond

Dr. Robert Bonde

President of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association and a professional school facilities planner with 15 years of experience

School board members Muir and Salazar’s lame excuses

I read with interest San Dieguito school board member Muir’s recent lame excuses for some of her actions as a board member.

As a teacher at Canyon Crest Academy, I see the impact every day of being at full capacity for student enrollment. I know an overwhelming number of my district’s teachers remain incredibly concerned with board members Muir and Salazar and their votes against desperately needed new classrooms at Canyon Crest, as well as other important Prop AA projects throughout our district.

We have seen with dismay Salazar’s efforts before to vote against the taxpayer-approved Prop AA and the incredible infrastructure improvements it continues to bring to the San Dieguito District’s students.

Furthermore, in a recent Union-Tribune interview, Salazar actually offered up his reason for continued opposition to Prop AA by stating, “Building new structures doesn’t provide better education.”

I wonder if our Canyon Crest parents would agree with him as it is their students who would have been sitting in the school’s parking lot if other board members had not outvoted Salazar’s and Muir’s misguided opposition to these new classrooms.

Of course, Salazar’s ignorant statement on “new structures” would be laughable coming from almost anyone else, but these words, spoken by a sitting school board member who professes to represent our parents, students and taxpayers, are not only astonishing, but they demonstrate an uninformed and disconnected judgement on his part.

Muir, in her recent letter to this paper, also attempted a public explanation for her misguided votes. She claims that she voted against the classrooms because our district has used the “lease/lease back model” in their construction and said this model was not recommended at a California School Board Association Conference she attended.

Unfortunately, a credible source for her claim could not be found. Certainly, the lease/lease back model is a bit complicated, but what is very simple and very clear is that this model is not only perfectly legal and allowed by California Education Code, it has been used very successfully by San Dieguito and other districts across California.

Moreover, the California School Boards Association shared that they have not issued any official recommendation nor advisory telling school districts not to use this model. Also, the CSBA is actually supporting current legislation which will help the lease/lease back model be a more effective tool for California school districts.

While our students need new classrooms, for which the taxpayer-supported Prop AA funds are already there, Muir and Salazar deny these classrooms and offer up lame excuses at the expense of our students’ futures. While Muir and Salazar dither, it’s our students who suffer. Shame on them both.

Christopher Black

Encinitas

Salazar and Muir should keep up the fight for fiscal sanity

San Dieguito Union High School District Trustee John Salazar should be congratulated and not criticized for his votes concerning recent school board issues. Our son just graduated from Torrey Pines and I agree completely with his position. After many years’ experience with this district it’s obvious what’s needed is the ability to fire a few lazy, unmotivated teachers and exercise some spending restraint.

Every year of our son’s education was marred by his having to sit through at least one class taught by a teacher just biding their time, waiting on retirement. And that’s if he was lucky. A couple of the teachers seemed to actively look for ways to get by doing the minimum amount of work. This is a shame because there are many excellent teachers in the system.

And then there are the administrators. This summer of job jumping is the best example of what the district staff considers important; improving their own circumstances. That’s to be expected, but I wish they’d stop sanctimoniously proclaiming their love for our children is their sole motivation.

I hope board members Muir and Salazar keep up the fight to bring fiscal sanity to this process. The best barometer of their success will be continued picketing by a few overpaid and underworked teachers.

Kurt Snider

Del Mar

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