The Coast News Group
Community CommentaryOpinion

Cardiff School Bond — a $46 million taxpayer rip-off

The proposed $22 million Cardiff Elementary School Bond is absolutely unnecessary and with principle and interest, a $46 million dollar taxpayer rip-off.

It is not about helping Cardiff kids and their education, it appears to be all about money.

The Cardiff School District claims that the permanent classrooms and support facilities in Cardiff Elementary School are 50 to 60 years old, don’t meet 21st century educational standards and must be replaced.

The District also asserts that the 12 portable classrooms at the Cardiff and Ada Harris School sites have problems and should go.

Now for the rest of the story.

The District has 106 employees but only 716 students (one staff for every 6.8 students) from 535 households out of a total of 5,000 in the entire District.

What the District does not say is that the buildings it wants to tear down were modernized, at great taxpayer expense, as a part of a 2000 School Bond.

A bond that, if the District has its way, property owners will still have to make payments on for nine more years after these buildings are destroyed and hauled away.

The updated Cardiff buildings, when accepted by the District and put into use, met all current building and earthquake codes and the District’s strict educational requirements.  They were built to the highest standards and are still structurally sound and fully functional.

Window frames are rusty and some roofs do leak.  Sadly, these two difficulties were to be corrected as a part of the 2000 bond project, but the District chose to exclude them.

Incredibly, the District has had sufficient money to correct these problems, plus termite treatment, in its deferred maintenance account for 13 years but failed to do so.

The 12 portable classrooms should go, but there is no need to replace them since the District is 30 percent overbuilt and classroom space is readily available without them.

The District determined that over the next five years, it needed to spend approximately $2 million on building repairs and maintenance.

This was a problem because instead of setting aside $799,000 annually as recommended by its consultant and necessary, it only budgeted $135,000.

The District’s solution was simple, instead of dipping into its operating budget for the $2 million to repair the facility, it decided without apprehension or empathy, to ask property owners/taxpayers to commit to paying $46 million in new taxes over the next 30 years.  A school board member coldly stressed that since interest rates are low, now was the time for another bond.

Cardiff is one of the six wealthiest school districts in the county and has more than sufficient income each year to cover its operational and facilities maintenance costs.  The District’s problems revolve around spending priorities, not a shortage of money.

If this bond passes students will not benefit to any great degree but school administrators will get the new buildings they want — employees probably will get a salary increase (San Dieguito High employees got 12 ½ percent after its bond passed) — bond consultants, providers, and purchasers will get $24 million — contractors, architects and engineers will get $22 million and the taxpayers/property owners will get the bill.

Please vote No on Measure GG, the Cardiff Elementary Capital Improvement Bond

Dr. Robert Bonde is the President of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association and a professional school facilities planner with 15 years of experience.