Patricia Holloway, CUSD Trustee, District 3

Last week, the San Clemente Times reported on Capistrano Unified School District’s (CUSD) discussion about whether to place a bond on the March 2020 ballot to refurbish San Clemente High and local schools. Since the districtwide Measure M bond failed in 2016, the district has deeply listened to criticisms from those who didn’t support the measure.

One major complaint was that the bond covered too broad an area. Residents from San Clemente, for example, didn’t want to pay to upgrade schools in Mission Viejo or Rancho Santa Margarita. There was also worry that communities would never see improvements to their own facilities. To address these issues, the district is considering a bond focused just on the San Clemente area. Bond proceeds will be spent right here on San Clemente’s older and outdated schools. The lion’s share will go toward modernizing our well-worn but beloved San Clemente High, the 55-year-old home of the Tritons.
Talega’s Mello-Roos districts, which paid for some of CUSD’s newest schools’ needs, as well as Palisades Elementary in Capistrano Beach may not be included in the bond. The bond area may include Palisades Elementary in Capistrano Beach, home of Sam Darnold.

Other past concerns included “What’s it for?” and “Why so much?” These will be addressed by rightsizing the 2020 bond to cover a well-defined list of projects developed specifically for each San Clemente school. Local residents would be levied a tax between $28 and $48 per $100,000 assessed value (not market value) of their home. Based on the median home value in San Clemente of $403,500, this translates to an additional $113 to $194 per year assessment. A citizens’ oversight committee of San Clemente residents will monitor every bond expenditure, which must be spent exclusively on facilities upgrades and new construction.

In California, passing a local bond is about the only way school districts can secure matching state funds for modernizing schools. In Orange County, districts in Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Orange, Santa Ana and Westminster all passed bonds in 2016-2018. Studies show that when schools are modernized, home market values increase by approximately 6%. I believe that as more details become available, local residents will fully support our “One Town, One Team” spirit by voting “yes” in 2020 for a San Clemente school bond.

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