Opinion/Letters to the Editor June 2022


June 2 issue:

Time for budget to reflect urgent repair needs for SDUHSD schools

Our San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) schools currently have over $77M+ in deferred maintenance as described in the 2020 Facilities Condition Draft Report. This independent review of our facilities notes that our schools have urgent repair needs, with over $21M marked as the highest priority. In the two years since the review, less than $2M of these repairs have been completed.

The disrepair our schools are in is shocking. For example, currently, at San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA), the high school impacted by enrollment well beyond capacity, significant plumbing issues in the school bathrooms, including failing sinks and inadequate water pressure, are impairing our students’ ability to properly wash their hands. Serious and dangerous electrical issues include unsecured wiring and non-GFCI outlets, some without covers, next to sinks used by students. Infrastructure such as sidewalks, parking lots, and retaining walls are in a state of structural failure. Roofing is past expected lifespan with areas of exposed dry rot, and gas lines on the roof are rusted and corroding.

Across the district, HVAC systems are at the end of their lifespans. Ventilation and filtration are key components of keeping school populations healthy, and yet these systems are not being updated as needed. And, the longer these desperately needed repairs are put off, the more catastrophic the eventual expense will be.

In 2012, voters specifically approved Prop AA bond projects such as CCA’s expansion of engineering spaces and a new black box theatre, as well as improvements at other schools. Ten years later, some of these projects haven’t been started yet, while Trustees Muir and Allman insist on other expenditures, such as spending almost $700,000 on architect plans for a potential aquatics facility at Torrey Pines High that has not been approved by either voters or the board.

There have been recent years during which the district has spent nothing on significant maintenance. And as some of our schools have increased enrollment and added instructional space, maintenance staffing has not kept up, resulting in an estimated shortage of 25 custodial positions needed to keep our schools running in optimal, clean and safe condition.

Our district paid over $300,000 for this expert review. It is time for our board, specifically Board President Muir and Vice President Michael Allman, to stop operating with consistent disregard for expertise provided by district staff and independent reports regarding safety of students. It is time for the budget to reflect the needs of all students, starting with basic and urgent safety concerns identified by the priority 1 designation, and for the board to immediately develop a plan to address the rapidly worsening repairs in priority 2. To do otherwise is financial and operational mismanagement of our district.

Kimberly McSherry

Carmel Valley resident / Parent of 2 current and 2 former students (grads) in SDUHSD