Del Mar school board authorizes bond for November ballot

By Kathy Day

While acknowledging their concerns about the prospect of multiple school bond measures being on the November ballot, Del Mar Union School District trustees on Wednesday, July 25, approved the “Del Mar 21st Century Classrooms and Technology Measure.” The bond needs 55 percent of voter approval to pass in November.

On a 4-1 vote, with Doug Perkins voting “no”, the trustees decided to seek voters’ approval to issue $76.8 million in general obligation bonds to “provide quality education, provide safe and modern schools and create budget savings.”

It outlines a lengthy list of expenditures that would be covered by the bond funds, from wireless technology and technology infrastructure and facilities modernization, security measures and maintenance. Among other projects, funds also could be used to replace outdated relocatable classrooms and perhaps build a special education preschool.

The measure calls for a citizens’ oversight committee to monitor expenditures.

The measure is expected to cost homeowners about $8 per $100,000 of assessed valuation on their property – or about $60 a year for a $700,000 home, which consultants said is the median price of a home in the district.

Yet if the San Dieguito Union High School District approves its own $449 million bond measure at the board meeting tonight (July 26) and the MiraCosta Community College District OKs one on Aug. 2, the combined costs could be about $400, said Charles Heath of TBWB Strategies, which was hired by the district to conduct a survey of voters.

The Nov. 6 ballot also will include a state measure that, according to approved ballot language, “increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges.”

Working with the Dolinka Group and True North Research, the consultants concluded that there is a strong likelihood the Del Mar school district bond will pass – 63 to 64 percent saying “definitely yes” or “probably yes” to the proposal. They also will work on campaign strategies and fundraising, with their fees coming from those proceeds. The district paid them to conduct the survey; they were also contracted by the San Dieguito district to do a similar review.

Heath told Del Mar trustees that it is not uncommon to have multiple bond measures on a ballot, adding, “We have found the measures reinforce each other and do not compete.”

Each of the Del Mar trustees said they did not want to adversely impact the San Dieguito measure, but the four who voted for the measure said they wanted voters to make the choice. They also agreed to do what they could, within the limits of campaign laws, to support the neighboring district’s efforts.

“If 63 percent of the community would support this, it is unfair not to let the community decide,” said trustee Kristin Gibson. “I hear passion and desperation from the superintendent and the cabinet that I haven’t heard before.”

Perkins, who said he had contacted the San Diego Taxpayers Association to find out its position but was told it was too late for them to endorse the measure, said he was concerned about the three ballots that could be on the measure. He also noted that he was worried about the economic effects of added taxes on some local families.

He said he would likely support a similar “stand-alone (measure) later when we have a clearer picture.”

Parent Jen Charat, who has three boys at Ashley Falls Elementary School, said the measure is needed to protect the students’ education, and Katrina Graupmann, president of the teachers association, said members would work hard for its passage.

The San Dieguito board considers its proposed measure at its 6:30 p.m. meeting tonight (July 26) at the board office, 710 Encinitas Blvd.