Jack Wood has a long history of community leadership, including experience and involvement in the history and disposition of the Gird Road site in Fallbrook. Given the strong local opposition to a high school on the Gird Road site, this is an important addition to the full story of the history and continuing effort to preserve the Gird Valley.
Some important points from the speech include:
There is much more within the body of the text available below. Read the full text of his speech
by clicking on the link below.
STUNNING INTRUSION GOES FAR BEYOND THE FORSEEABLE NEEDS OF THE DISTRICT -
The original sketches shown by Dr. Cunningham at his presentation to the residents of Sycamore Ranch about the proposed Gird Road site was no indication of what was actually intended. As part of the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Report, the state requires the submission of a number of documents, including a NOP, or Notice of Preparation.
This document outlines the scope of the project, and a site plan. This has revealed the unbelievable size of this proposed project for the first time. It includes:
Our concerns are not just over the scope of the project and their effect on the local community. The limits imposed on the district on how big a bond they can raise at any one time means the district will in all probability have to raise multiple bond issues. This raises issues of the fiscal rersponsibilty of the district in even considering such a massive project given the current student population and near-term growth projected for the district.
The imact of the gird road site on traffic flow on the 76 will also be an issue for those living both in the immediate area as well as anyone using that highway.
We are convinced that there will be detrimental consquences to the environment based on these plans and the nature of the surrounding area. See this page for photos taken of the surrounding properties and notes about environmental concerns associated with those photos. (Environmental Page Link).
We encourage everyone to express their opposition to this proposal (Link here). We believe that anyone who views this "NOP" will be as concerned as we are over what is being proposed. See for yourself.
The report can be viewed here (NOTICE OF PREPARATION)
FUHSD REAL PROPERTY ADVISORY COMMITTE REPORT -
On November 14, 2011 the Fallbrook Union High School District Real Property Advisory Committee reported that, “The topography would make it very expensive to build a school on the property. There is a huge concern about the future use of the property for building a school due to environmental obstacles and traffic issues.” It was also discussed that, should the Bonsall unification measure be approved, the new Bonsall Unified School District would have the option to acquire that property as per the negotiated splitting of the District (Link to Report). However, in the November 2010 issue of the “Village News” superintendent Dale Mitchell said "I’m not aware of the Bonsall district showing interest to acquire the property."
Therefore, FUHSD determined that thgere were multiple factors influencing their decision not to build on the Gird Road site. They Included the following major categories:
ALL OF THESE CONCERNS ARE STILL IN PLACE FOR THE GIRD ROAD PROPERTY AS OF THIS WRITING.
NEW REPORT COMING SOON:
CATE is working on a report covering these and other issues that will be available soon. We will place the contents of that on this site in the near future. Subjects to be covered related to this news article will include:
We will update this article as soon as the report is available.
On January 19, 2017, with a near capacity crowd in attendance, the BUSD board approved additional spending for the Gird Road site.
This action was taken after many in the room spoke publicly against this action, citing a variety of reasons why Gird is not a good high school location and why spending more money to study the Gird site would be a waste of taxpayers dollars.
CATE believes that the BUSD administration is well aware of community anger and is rushing to fund Gird Road in order to make the future argument that with thousands of dollar already spent, it would be foolish to abandon Gird for another building site. In fact, this argument is already being promoted by Dr. Cunningham and his staff.
BUSD approved an Agreement with Environmental Science Associates (ESA) for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) studies.
If ESA determines that an Environmental Impact Report is not required a "Mitigated Negative Declaration" will be prepared at a cost " Not to Exceed" $60,500.00.
If preparation of an Environmental Impact Report is required costs are defined as "Not to Exceed" $98,000.00.
The district also approved a "Notice to Proceed" for an agreement with BakerNowicki Design Studio. The notice was defined as "authorized the architect to only begin and complete both the Pre-Design & Programming Analysis Phase and the Initial Planning Phase of the new high school project”.
Through Schematic Design Only - $181,569.38
That brings us to a single meeting expenditure authorization for Gird Road of from $242,069.38 - 279,569.38.
Superintendent Cunningham couched authorization of these funds as something that the district could withdraw from at any time. These assurances prompted those members of the board who questioned such expenditures to approve both measures..
EARLIER EXPENDITURE APPROVALS:
This is only the latest of a number of approved expenditures for the Gird Road site.
At the December 8, 2016 BUSD board meeting...
BUSD approved a Proposal from Hernandez Environmental Services to "Provide Focused Biological Surveys" at the New Bonsall High School Gird Road site.
If a "Wetland Permit Application" is required - $38,810.00.
If a "Wetland Permit Application" is not required - $30,810.00.
Bonsall also approved a "Lease / Lease Back Agreement" with Erickson-Hall Construction Company for the "Proposed New Bonsall High School Construction" on Gird Road.
$75,000.00 - committed to cover costs associated with "Pre-construction Services".
TOTAL AUTHORIZATIONS APPROVED BY THE DISTRICT TO DATE: Between $ 355,879.38 to $ 393,379.38.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
CATE believes that such authorization of funds is both premature and not in the best long term interest of the district. The more the district spends on the Gird Road site, the more difficult it will be to make a different and better site choice in the future. Taking a more cautious approach that considers recent offers from Ocean Breeze for the property immediately adjacent to the current school site, and working with CATE to locate other future use properties is a much more prudent approach.
The agreement with Erickson-Hall alone will mean that the district is agreeing to pay 147 payments of $300,000 per month with a final payment of $9,624.00, bringing the cost of this deal alone to the staggering sum of $44,109,741 (over twice the original price specified—the “Greatest Maximum Price” or GMP for the project is $20,459,251.00). The monthly payments for this contract are based on an annual interest rate of 14.6%!
Where does the $300,000 a month payment come from? The answer is general funds. Because teachers’ salaries and school operating costs come out of this fund and because state contributions to public schools are falling and will continue to fall (according to school sources), a $300,000 a month payment would be a reckless financial decision. The only place the district could possibly come up with 44 million dollars would be through another bond, and that is far from guaranteed.
The passage of a school bond in 2018 or even in 2020 is not likely without community support, and the community has told the District four times that they do not think Gird is a proper location. Is the district willing to risk gambling another bond to pay for Gird when the local community is so vocally against a school in this location? With a history of four failed school bonds for Gird Road, the passage of another bond without local community support seems doomed to fail. And remember, the money spent to place these failed bonds on the ballot came out of the school budget and could better be spent on things that benefit today’s education programs.
In our view, BUSD administrators continue to make bad financial decisions by putting their wants for grand schools before their needs of good teachers and a curriculum and school program that will attract more students.
An article published in the "San Diego Reader" on February 16th, 2017 points to a potential conflict of interest at the Bonsall Unified School District, along with a review of the districts use of Lease - Lease Back Agreements with Erickson-Hall Construction Company.
Read the Article Here
On February 6, 2017 Superintendent Dr. Justin Cunningham was notified that the BUSD had been named in a legal complaint brought forward by CalTAN alleging that the BUSD had entered into an illegal lease-leaseback (L-LB) agreement with construction company Erickson-Hall.
The complaint accuses the District of not following CA state guidelines in regard to the agreement that the Board approved on December 8, 2016. After receiving CaLTAN’s legal complaint, Dr. Cunningham requested that an action item be placed on the February meeting agenda recommending that the (illegal) “agreement” be rescinded. On February 9, 2017 the Board voted to rescind this L-LB agreement.
While the legal aspects are complicated, essentially the District entered into the L-LB agreement prior to the Division of State Architect’s approval of the plans and specifications as required by the Education Code. During the debate prior to the vote on December 8, 2016, Dr. Cunningham recommended and urged the Board to vote YES on (again) what was termed an agreement, not a draft. This term is important to remember.
Why was the Board urged to take this action when the District knew, or should have known, that the agreement was illegal under CA state statutes? One possible explanation: there seems to have been two primary motives at work: (1) to move as quickly as possible to develop the Gird Road site and (2) to avoid a sealed bid requirement that would exist under the new 2017 CA state rules.
There was a desire to have a L-LB construction agreement approved ASAP to start the pre-construction process. Under the rules as stated in 2016 (no formal bid process required) the District must have in hand finished and State approved building plans before an agreement could legally be executed. Evidence shows that the District knew or should have known that the process would take at least 6 months to complete and would put the District under the 2017 rules. This would then require a sealed bid process, which CATE believes the District may have been trying to avoid.
Hence, the Board was asked to approve what was termed an agreement (as described in the BUSD agenda item for Dec. 8 with Erickson Hall Construction. To our knowledge the Board was not told that the agreement did not meet the requirements of the 2016 rules for L-LB agreements. The Board (apparently) was under the impression that the agreement was legal, and that it would summarily be executed and validated.
But the evidence seems to show a disregard for following such mandated formality, and we do not know if that was or was not intentional. It appears that the District may have been under the impression that if they did NOT execute the agreement, and internally called it a draft, then one of two scenarios would occur::
No formal legal complaint would be filed within the 60 day window for objecting to the L-LB agreement.
If this occurred then it would make no difference if the agreement (or “draft" as Dr. Cunningham had termed the contract in a letter after receiving the complaint) were legal or not. After the time to formally object had closed, there could be no further challenge. Hence, there would be the opportunity for District officers to simply sign, execute and validate what would now be termed an agreement and continue on. If someone at a later date learned that the agreement was illegal at the time it was approved by the Board in 2016, or signed by the BUSD in 2017, there could be no challenge.
A legal complaint would be filed within the 60 day window for objection to the “draft”.
If that were to occur (and it did), an argument could be made that the E-H “agreement” was only a draft because it had never been executed. Encouraging the Board to reverse their approval of the now identified “draft” and asking them to approve a new agreement under the 2017 rules would be a trap door exit to avoid an unpleasant legal outcome.
As we know, scenario #2 has now occurred. Further, scenarios #1 and #2 explain what likely was the motivation for not executing and validating the E-H agreement and why the agreement (now reversed) was labeled only a “draft”. After the legal complaint was filed, those involved have been very adamant in written responses that there was no money exchanged and no work done by E-H under the Board approved pre-construction portion of the agreement, most likely to enforce the concept that the agreement was really only a “draft”.
CATE does not approve of anyone misleading the Board and the public by knowingly creating an illegal contract agreement under 2016 and 2017 CA State rules, calling the E-H contract an “agreement" in December and then, after being legally challenged, referring to it only as a “draft”. Nowhere in the L-LB agreement or in the December 8, 2016 Board agenda was the word “draft” used to describe this agreement. In fact the document is titled: CONSTRUCTION SERVICES AGREEMENT FOR THE PROPOSED BONSALL HIGH SCHOOL. Our conclusion is that this was done to expedite a schedule that suits BUSD’s own needs at a high dollar cost to the taxpayers, and to avoid a sealed bid process. CATE questions if this type of (what we term) deceptive leadership is proper for those teaching our students. You be the judge.