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File photo
File photo

By Allison Jarrell

The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees gave staff direction on May 25 to move forward with preparing a June 8 presentation on the specifics of placing an $889 million general obligation bond on the November 2016 general election ballot. The bond would be used to fund more than $800 million in deferred maintenance of district facilities.

Beginning in mid-October 2015, a Community Committee on School Classrooms and Campus Facilities began holding meetings on topics including facilities funding and ultimately recommended the district board “pursue additional funds from all possible resources for its school facilities,” “transition to a district-wide funding model over time,” and “pursue a district-wide general obligation bond to further raise additional funds.”

According to a phone survey conducted from April 28 to May 10, of the 1,171 Capo Unified voters surveyed, 62 percent of respondents would definitely or probably vote “yes” or lean toward voting “yes” in favor of an $889 million bond measure to fund repairs and upgrades to district facilities. About 29 percent of residents polled would definitely or probably vote “no” or lean toward voting “no.”

The board directed staff to prepare a June 8 bond presentation with the goal of voting on the bond measure on June 22. Since the deadline for placing a bond measure on the November ballot is Aug. 12, the last opportunity for the board to vote on the measure would be its regularly scheduled meeting on July 20. Two-thirds of the board—five trustees—must approve the measure for it to be placed on the ballot.

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comments (8)

  • “District Facilities” is not necessarily schools. People should recall what cost it took to build the current offices that the board is administrating from. Better use of the funds would have been for maintenance. $800M for maintenance costs is excessive. Something is not right.

  • CUSD should pursue an increase in fees, like other state school districts have done, to cover for student personnel costs of education—which amount to about 80% of expenses in many school districts—have driven some of the increase, along with increased costs for utilities and technology. See WSJ post on Public Schools charge kids for basics.

    $800 million in bonds to cover deferred maintenance suggests issues with current budgets vs. costs and more cost accounting details need to be disclosed to the voters.

    I do not want to see that “deferred maintenance” may be 80% labor & tied to the public school salary levels for administrators, teachers, custodians, facilities, grounds keepers, etc …that all tend to be unionized with negotiated contracts that MAY provide 100% pension contributions & 100% ACA coverage with no deductibles as part of the COLA issues facing other unfunded liabilities in most state agencies.

    • Fees of a sort are already here albeit voluntarily. Not a fan of required fees for a free education system.

      Perhaps it is time, that some out of the box thinkers got involved in a modernization effort to eliminate much of the overhead that reduces the money available for student education.

  • Excellent comments Thomas and Joe. I would like to add that CUSD’s salaries equate to about 92% of its total budget, which is high compared to 80% like most districts. Last month represented the fourth year of compensation increases which naturally increases pension costs. Average teacher compensation in CUSD has gone from $95,000 to $110,000 since 2012 and unfunded liabilities have gone from $49 million to $57 million. This practice is unsustainable. It is no wonder basic maintenance at facilities has been deferred for so long, class sizes are among the highest in the state and programs at schools unable to do substantial fundraising have seen programs like arts and music cut. Seriously, the more money you give CUSD that it misspends, the more money it wants. CUSD has a painful history of not accurately accounting for and misspending large sums of monies, while not prioritizing the needs of the kids over the adult employees.

  • CrapoUSD has a long history of mismanagement. Spending problems are solved by giving the spenders more money.

    The district cannot even account for where the money goes today. The people that pay mello roos on top of regular property taxes are a prime example that was in the news recently.

    Would you give someone a blank check with no business plan and full transparency?

    Voters need to say no this until there is full transparency, accountability and a formal external oversight process that is accountable to the people paying the property taxes.

  • Many of the school building are 50 years old. New facilities encourage students to out perform, increase property values, work more efficiently. The upsides are tremendous. Nothing is wrong with investing in school campus facilities. Deferred maintenance is not an accurate description of the use of bond funds.

    • @Gordon,

      Respectfully disagree with this…
      “New facilities encourage students to out perform, increase property values, work more efficiently”

      “Leadership” encourages schools to perform. Not new structures. With the right leadership, students will rise to the occasion.

      “Better school performance” increases property values .

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