Leaky roofs or modern with no serious defects

At the upcoming November election, Del Mar residents will vote on Proposition CC which calls for borrowing $76.8 million by the Del Mar Union School District to improve and expand school facilities. The borrowing is to be paid for with a new property tax assessment which will cost each residence $84 per year on average. This may surprise some who remember that just two short years ago there was discussion about closing facilities because Del Mar had too many schools. At that time an advisory committee was formed to assess current facilities and Del Mar’s future needs. The results of that report stand in stark contrast to the pleas being used today to justify a tax hike.

In January 2012, the District Advisory Committee for DMUSD examined capacity and enrollment trends. Here’s a quote from their findings:

The DMUSD 7-11 DAC reviewed historical enrollment trends and the most recent enrollment projections. The finding was that there was excess seating capacity across the district, with

1,235 empty seats spread over the eight elementary schools

in the DMUSD.

(According to the committee, Del Mar schools have space for 1,235 more students as currently configured which represent 23 percent excess capacity over current 2012 enrollment. The committee also looked at enrollment projections and maximum capacity. Maximum capacity achieved through reconfiguration was estimated to be 6,932 students. By 2018, they estimate 5,389 students which would still leave ample room. Enrollment could grow 50 percent from 2012 numbers and DMUSD would still have available space without constructing new buildings.

The ballot languages says that borrowing will be used to repair and maintain the dilapidated conditions of DMUSD schools:

“To protect quality education, provide safe and modern schools and create budget savings, shall Del Mar Union School District improve instructional technology and classroom computer systems; provide accessible classrooms for students with disabilities;

fix leaky roofs and worn-out floors; and upgrade aging classrooms, libraries and school buildings

by issuing $76.8 million in bonds at legal rates, with independent oversight, no money for District administration, and all money staying local?”

This language stands in stark contrast to the findings of the district report of two years earlier when the facilities got high marks:

“The schools in the DMUSD vary in age, from 45 to two years old, and all are in good repair and fully functional.

The two oldest schools, Del Mar Hills and Del Mar Heights, have been recently modernized

  1. The next oldest school, Carmel Del Mar, while showing its age somewhat, is due to be modernized in 2017.

All other schools are modern with no serious defects or deficiencies

other than a lack of storage space, which seems to be an endemic problem at all schools.”

The typical interest component for a bond will be two-three times the principle amount taking the total obligation to more than $200 million. This is an enormous financial commitment spanning several decades. Residents should not be misled by hyperbolic ballot language and mischaracterization of needs and facilities. DMUSD official internal report reveals the truth that the current facilities are “modern” with “no serious defects” and have ample capacity for even the most wildly optimistic growth. The only serious defect is in DMUSD’s justification for hundreds of millions in higher taxes.

The official report is here: https://bit.ly/DMUSD-report

Michael Robertson


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