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By Miriam Raftery

January 23, 2015 (Alpine) – The Grossmont Union High School District must set aside $14 million in bond money immediately and another $28 million by January 2016 to fund building a high school in Alpine. Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman issued the ruling Thursday, granting an injunction sought by Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability.

Priscilla Schreiber, the only member of the Grossmont Board who has consistently supported building the high school in Alpine, told East County Magazine, “I’m thrilled.” 

But a statement from the district claims that other schools in the district will not get needed improvements due to the court’s decision.  The district indicates it will be back in court January 28 filing for a stay in hopes of halting the injunction.

District voters twice approved bond measures, Props U and H, that called specifically for an Alpine High School to be built.  The Grossmont District reneged on its promise to build the school, claiming enrollment triggers were not met, a point disputed by supporters of the school.  A Grand Jury sided with Alpine parents but the District defied the Grand Jury’s recommendations.  As a result, Alpine parents have sought to leave the Grossmont district and unify the Alpine Union School District to become K through 12 and allow it to build the high school.

A statement from the Grossmont District claims the judge’s decision will have a “grave impact” that will mean several years of delays in modernizing classrooms and investing in technology and safety upgrades at existing schools, as well as building a performing arts space at Santana High School and an events center at Grossmont High School.

But Schreiber counters that the district squandered bond money by building performing arts centers that were double the cost of multi-purposes facilities called for in the bond—money that could have been used on priorities such as safety and modernization of classrooms.

She also faulted GUHSD attorney Warrington Parker III for telling the judge that Alpine plaintiffs were “money grabbers who were just going to take the money and run to use it for unification.  It was disgusting,” she says, adding that the purpose of unification is to build the long-promised high school that the Grossmont District has refused to build.

Safety is a concern for Alpine parents too, since several Alpine teens have died on the highways commuting long distances to school or after-school campus activities.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson wrote in his Superintendent’s Newsline that the district believes the court’s ruling “had no legal or factual basis…”

Alpine education advocate Bill Weaver fires back,  “By making this incredulous public open meeting insinuation, GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson is calling a CA Superior Court Judge wrong on a ruling of law? A Public School District Superintendent demonstrating his disrespect of the U.S. Judicial Process. I question Superintendent Swenson's motive, and leadership qualities.”

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“grave impact” is delays in safety upgrades... Really?

The GUHSD spokesperson statement, or GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson, whoever is complaining that the Superior Court Judge ordered injunction will stop needed SAFETY upgrades at existing GUHSD facilities is bunk, missing a key point, and absurd. Why? Because the GUHSD ignores that on average, one (1) Alpine HS student per each school year dies en-route to classes, or after school activities, at Granite Hills HS (GHHS), and/or Steele Canyon Charter HS. Remember; the Prop H bond initiative was passed as the "Safety & Overcrowding Bond Initiative", they (the GUHSD) do not totally care about SAFETY, if they did care then the GUHSD would have prioritized needed safety upgrades at Valhalla HS (VHS), and kept as a priority the Alpine and Blossom Valley HS - both are needed to alleviate safety hazards, and reduce overcrowding. I say, "The GUHSD are the money-grabbers!" The quoted GUHSD attorney Warrington Parker III has it backwards and wrong. GUHSD Attorney Warrington Parker III should have stated (IMO) that it is the GUHSD who are grabbing the money and running. Alpine HS bond money is being diverted to many other non-essential, non-safety related bond projects. Our bond dollars have been spent on the likes of new performing Arts Centers (A new PAC at Mt. Helix HS), and new Events Centers (the PAC at Grossmont HS), and other non-SAFETY, non-essential, non-bond listed projects that are being constructed, like the beautiful, yet grandiose Olympic Swim Facility at Granite Hills HS. Nice, however not essential, and not a Safety Upgrade. This is the very basis of, and the very reason that a "Taxpayer's Waste" lawsuit is in the works against the GUHSD, and Ralf Swenson, and another 10 un-named as yet, "Doe" defendants! Let us start the "legal discovery process, and depositions begin for the unknown "Doe", un-named defendants, and named defendant GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson, ASAP.