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By Laura Ferguson, San Clemente
With regards to the Aug. 25 San Clemente Times cover story on Capistrano Unified School District’s near billion dollar bond measure, taxpayers brace yourselves. A wave of new taxes will hit you hard if CUSD’s bond measure passes this November.
Be careful before voting, and be forewarned that the outcome is a taxation tsunami (a triple taxation tsunami for Mello-Roos taxpayers) that will last 35 years, paid by taxpayers today and their children tomorrow. This bond is a slush fund that is too big to control.
There is no doubt there is a need at San Clemente High School and other aging schools that CUSD has ignored for 15-plus years despite receiving large amounts of property tax revenue from seven cities and unincorporated areas. San Clemente taxpayers send more than $50 million annually to CUSD. Why has CUSD allowed our older schools to deteriorate while giving raises across the board every year and ignoring students’ needs? A gross inequity exists when $120 million in just four years is spent on raises for adult employees, while kids suffer as school facilities deteriorate, programs are cut and parents are asked to fundraise for their “free” public education, and the large number of students per class causes many kids to slide academically.
Coincidentally, in a year that a bond measure is introduced, CUSD is making facility improvements, perhaps to show some concerted effort to fix facilities. Take the two-story, 24-classroom project at SCHS that will commence construction this fall. CUSD fails to publicize that this project costing $14 million is not a result of sound fiscal stewardship by CUSD; instead, Talega taxpayers are funding $8 million of this project with special taxes CUSD over-collected from homeowners in excess of what was needed to pay the Mello-Roos debt. CUSD only stopped this practice after a taxpayer revolt. CUSD has allocated the remaining $2 million in Talega’s excess special taxes to a similar project at San Juan Hills High School. When completed, Talega taxpayers will have funded $20 million at SCHS and $20 million at San Juan Hills High School, and now they seek $1 billion more.