Del Mar school district group considers tax, bond possibilities for school improvements


By Karen Billing

At the fifth and final meeting of the Del Mar Union School District’s (DMUSD) facilities master plan outreach group, the group learned about funding alternatives, such as a general obligation bond or parcel tax to pay for the $59.5 million to $118 million of improvements that will be outlined in the master plan. The group looked at what it would take to accomplish the group’s first three priorities of modernization, technology infrastructure and replacing portables with permanent structures, or including the group’s fourth and fifth priorities of space for Extended Studies Curriculum classes and converting libraries to innovation centers.

As explained by Benjamin Dolinka of the Dolinka Group, a parcel tax is typically for a specific dollar amount over a specified number of years; it raises revenues and provides an opportunity for the district to spend those revenues. It requires a two-thirds vote of approval from district voters which can be challenging to get and, additionally, homeowners age 65 and above can receive an exemption.

General obligation bonds are voter-approved, long-term debt instruments that require 55 percent of the vote.

The group looked at numbers for both programs, spending the funds over a 10-year period and borrowing over a 25-year period, through 2047-48.

To modernize all of the district campuses, the district would need about $59.5 million. A general obligation bond would be approximately $13 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

By comparison, DMUSD’s October 2012 general obligation bond, which failed to generate 55 percent of the vote, was for $76.8 million and was about $8.44 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The San Dieguito Union School District’s $449 million bond, which passed, was for a maximum of $25 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

A parcel tax rate for this option would be $145 and would increase by 5 percent every year.

To aim to accomplish its top three priorities, the district would need $92.5 million, which would break down to about $20 per $100,000 of assessed property value for taxpayers with a general obligation bond or a $225 parcel tax.

Should they move forward with either plan, the soonest the district could get a ballot measure would be in June or November 2014.

In addition to parcel tax and general obligation bond monies, Dolinka said there is some potential funding from the state as, over the next 10 years, the state has to contribute $12 billion to help California schools fund facilities. Carmel Del Mar School could qualify for about $1.8 million of modernization funding, and Del Mar Heights and Sage Canyon could each get about $585,000 in new construction funds.

There is also funding available from community finance districts for improvements at Ocean Air, Torrey Hills, Sycamore Ridge and Ashley Falls. Recreation assessment district funding could also cover projects such as covered play areas and replacing wood chips on the playground.

The facilities master plan will be presented to the board for approval at its February meeting.