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File photo
File photo

By Allison Jarrell

The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees further refined its strategy for pursuing an $889 million general obligation bond at the board’s July 13 meeting, with the majority of trustees voting to create a districtwide School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) that excludes Rancho Mission Viejo.

The board voted 6-1, with Trustee Jim Reardon dissenting, to approve a resolution of intent to form the SFID. If approved by voters in November, staff estimated residents within the SFID will be taxed a maximum of $43 per $100,000 of assessed value of their homes.

The board also voted to table a second resolution calling for an SFID exclusively for the Rancho Mission Viejo area, with trustees saying that the district’s current needs should be their focus before funding future needs of new schools.

The only school currently excluded from the approved SFID would be Esencia Elementary School, planned in Rancho Mission Viejo with a fall 2018 opening.

Over the last several months, the board has discussed placing an $889 million bond measure on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, which would be used to leverage state funds and pay for more than $800 million of deferred maintenance of district facilities. In San Clemente, that includes improvements for elementary schools, middle schools and $91 million in enhancements for San Clemente High School alone, which is more than 50 years old. SCHS projects on the district’s list include a new student services building, additional parking, a new library media center, a new performing arts theater, a locker room expansion and remodel, gym modernization and a new 50-meter Olympic size pool.

Trustees have debated back and forth over whether to pursue smaller regional bonds, a districtwide bond or an SFID with areas carved out, such as Rancho Mission Viejo. Some trustees have noted that after speaking with constituents, they felt a single bond was the clearer, more transparent choice versus potentially confusing residents with six SFIDs.

Other trustees have argued that smaller regional bonds would appeal to residents who don’t feel connected to the needs of other communities and schools, and alternatively would allow a city to vote no on its own bond without limiting other cities’ access to funds. Recently a group of Talega residents have attended board meetings to say they wouldn’t support the bond measure due to issues such as ongoing over-taxation, mismanagement of Mello-Roos funds and lack of transparency.

The board was scheduled to preview and discuss the ballot measure language at its meeting after press time on Wednesday, July 20. Visit www.sanclementetimes.com for updates following the July 20 meeting.

The deadline for placing a bond measure on the November ballot is Aug. 12, and the board is scheduled to vote on the measure at its regularly scheduled Aug. 10 meeting. Two-thirds of the board—five trustees—must approve the measure.

The Aug. 10 board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the district’s headquarters, located at 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano. The meeting’s agenda will be posted ahead of time at www.capousd.ca.schoolloop.com under the “Board of Trustees” tab.

To see a complete list of proposed district projects that could be funded by a bond, visit www.capousd.ca.schoolloop.com and click “Proposed Projects by School Site” at the very bottom right of the screen.

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