Solana Beach district discusses possible bond issue for 2016 ballot


With improvements needed at local schools and election season around the corner, the Solana Beach School District is exploring whether to place a general obligation bond on the ballot in 2016.

“We have great confidence in our ability to provide parity of instruction. Our teachers across the board are doing a great job,” said newly appointed Superintendent Terry Decker during the July 16 board meeting — his first as head of the district. “But when we look at Solana Ranch or Solana Pacific compared to Skyline or Solana Vista, can we really say we have parity of facilities?”

Founded in 1925, the Solana Beach School District has seven elementary schools and a child development center. In the fall, the district opened its seventh school, Solana Ranch Elementary School in Pacific Highlands Ranch. Other schools, however, opened decades ago and need to be updated. Skyline School in Solana Beach, for example, was constructed in phases between 1955 and 1961 and was modernized in 2000.

In 2011, the district initiated its facilities master plan process, developing a comprehensive list of projects to support and complement the district’s educational goals.

The district hired HMC Architects to assist in the plan’s development. Along with the advisers, a committee of board members, administrators, teachers, staff and parents was formed to help with the process. The plan was presented to the board during a board workshop in May 2013.

The plan calls for improvements to all schools, with the most significant projects being the modernization of Skyline and Solana Vista — the district’s oldest schools. It also calls for the replacement of temporary buildings at school sites. Only nine of the 31 classrooms at Solana Vista, for example, are in permanent buildings, said Caroline Brown, the district’s director of technology and new facilities.

The document has been updated in recent months, adding limited improvements and long-term goals for even the district’s newest schools, including Solana Ranch and Solana Pacific, a Carmel Valley school that was constructed in 2004.

The board would need a two-thirds vote to place a Proposition 39 general obligation bond on the ballot in June 2016 or November 2016. The district’s project list must be specified in the bond measure, which would require a 55 percent approval from the voters.

Exploring whether to pursue a general obligation bond, the board in January heard an informational report from TELACU Construction Management regarding the history of general obligation bonds and how the district would pursue such a measure. TELACU, which further discussed bonds with the board in April, is serving as the district’s technical advisers on the planning and implementation of a potential bond measure.

“You’re well ahead of schedule,” said Jay Bell, senior vice president of TELACU, during the recent meeting.

TELACU will return to the board in August to give a presentation on the district’s financial capacity. The board will discuss polling in September.