As a result of rate shock, the San Dieguito Union High School District board voted at its Oct. 15 meeting to join a collation of 38 other San Diego County districts to protect state funding being diverted to pay for escalating electricity costs.
Associate Superintendent Eric Dill said county schools have been facing “massive increases” in electricity costs — an average 39 percent surge as a result of the General Rate Case approved by the California Public Utility Commission (PUC). Countywide, it is estimated that this escalation will cost public schools more than $25 million.
While San Dieguito’s overall electrical consumption was flat last year, its annual bill went up by more than $300,000.
Dill said these higher costs diverted nearly 20 percent of the state’s Local Control Funding Formula base grant toward paying electrical bills rather than its intended use of providing educational opportunities to students.
“Unlike businesses, which can pass increased costs of doing business on to their customers, schools do not have the ability to generate revenue to absorb utility increases,” Dill said. “We cannot adjust our business hours, we cannot relocate and we cannot close the doors on our children.”
By joining the coalition of 38 school districts in the county, the board is asking for solutions like enacting legislation to create a separate rate class for school districts, capping costs, providing a guaranteed bill credit or grandfathering rates for schools to help preserve state funding from going to public utilities rather than to education.