By Shawn Raymundo
In anticipation of introducing regional bond measures to upgrade schools, the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday, July 17, passed a pair of resolutions that intend to establish facility improvement boundaries around San Clemente and the cities of Dana Point, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel.
Should CUSD move forward with placing the bond measures on the ballot for the March 2020 Primary Elections, voters within those boundaries, or School Facilities Improvement Districts (SFIDs), would decide whether to support a new tax to fund renovation projects at several of the schools in their area, primarily Dana Hills High School and San Clemente High School.
The resolutions, which both passed in 6-0-1 votes, with Trustee Amy Hanacek absent, propose to create a Southern SFID around San Clemente and a Western SFID around Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel and Dana Point (not including Capistrano Beach).
Before the boundaries are officially created, the public will first have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed SFIDs during a board meeting this September. Following the hearings, the trustees could vote to form the boundaries and then receive drafts of the bond measures, as CUSD is eyeing an October deadline of determining whether to introduce those initiatives.
The bond initiatives for both SFIDs would create a tax levy of $34 for every $100,000 of assessed home value. CUSD has stressed that proceeds generated from each of those SFIDs would stay within those boundaries to renovate schools specifically in those areas.
The Western SFID bond is expected to generate $293 million in available proceeds for the district to upgrade Dana Hills High, Aliso Niguel High School and Niguel Hills Middle School by implementing new buildings, replacing portable classrooms and renovating classrooms.
The Southern SFID is expected to yield $113 million in proceeds. If voters in San Clemente pass the bond, more than $87 million of those funds would pay for classroom renovations and new buildings at the 54-year-old high school.
Prior to the vote on the resolution for the Western boundary, the trustees resumed discussions on whether that SFID should include small sections of Laguna Woods. The board had initially debated the merits of including those sections, which primarily are senior communities, during a previous workshop meeting on June 26.
CUSD staff presented two maps to the board on July 17, one that included portions of Laguna Woods and one without. Trustee Jim Reardon motioned to pass a resolution that doesn’t include those sections, because CUSD doesn’t serve those communities “in any meaningful way.”
Trustee President Gila Jones raised a similar point, noting that CUSD doesn’t engage with those communities. She also stated that her reasoning for not supporting the inclusion of those Laguna Woods neighborhoods was not based on their being senior communities.
“We don’t serve them . . . it has nothing to do with them being a senior community,” she said, adding that “the reason why it was brought up is we haven’t engaged with them, we don’t know what they have to say.”
The Board of Trustees will hold the public hearing for the resolution at CUSD headquarters in San Juan Capistrano on Wednesday, Sept. 18.