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Critics call action "meaningless"

February 12, 2013 (El Cajon )—Newly elected Grossmont Union High School District Board Trustee Jim Stieringer plans to introduce a resolution on the 12th high school for Alpine at the board meeting at 924 East Main Street, El Cajon.   The public portion of the meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13.

The motion directs the GUHSD to developed modified building plans and submit to the Division of the State Architect  (DSA) –but only after it is determined that the Alpine School District Unification plan is either abandoned or fails to achieve voter approval. In addition, the site and building plans must be modified to stay within the remaining budget.

The District has already expended $22 million, including property acquisiton and plans, leaving $43 million of the original $65 million budgeted. The project was twice approved by voters in Propositions H and U. Plans were submitted, but Superintendent Rolf Swenson pulled them back last summer without a board vote to do so.  The Board later approved the action retroactively, said Bill Weaver, who formerly chaired a citizens committee on the Alpine High School and ran for the board last fall.

Weaver said that Stieringer’s resolution “means absolutely nothing.”   He called for an investigation of the Superintendent and administration staff for “mishandling and mismanaging of bond funds.”

Weaver said that he is pulling his own child out of the district, adding, “The greater Alpine area's students and parents are treated like illegitimate cousins at best!"

Sal Casamassima of the Alpine High School Citizens Committee told that he concurred with Weaver’s view that the filing of plans with DSA is a “meaningless gesture…“Now they are making the nonsensical proposal to refile those plans provided the Alpine unification is halted. There is no promise or commitment to build the school and, in fact, the 2011 resolution stipulated that the GUHSD board would not even consider going forward with school construction until state [Average Daily Attendance] funding levels were restored to what they were in 2008—something that will never happen. “Hence, that resolution effectively killed the high school.”

He emphasized that the position of the high school committee he chairs and unification petitioners is clear.  “We are proceeding with our unification effort and signature petition drive,” he stated in an e-mail to “If the GUHSD board wishes to see a halt to unification, there is one clear step it can take—build the Alpine high school. “Until the doors of the Alpine high school are opened, the unification effort will continue.”

Stieringer defended the motion and reaffirmed his support for an Alpine High School in an email to Patch’s editor and to Weaver, forwarded to ECM.

“Bill and I agree that Proposition U included the high school. We also agree that a local high school is necessary to obviate a 20 mile daily round trip to Granite Hills High School and Steele Canyon High School, both of which are the nearest schools to the students' homes,” he stated.

“My proposed agenda item will, if passed,  simply reaffirm the board's intent to comply with the voters' wishes. The agenda item stipulates that we will proceed with the planning and construction if the community rejects unification of the Alpine School District (a movement supported by Mr. Weaver and others) that would effectively remove the Alpine community from the Grossmont Union High School District.”

Stieringer added that he could not justify obligating taxpayers to the cost of construction a school in a different district.  “I find it interesting to note that in 2002 the Alpine District rejected a $25 million bond issue that would have provided local property tax funds to build the school subject to district unification,” he noted.

Stieringer defended fellow board members and the Superintendent,adding, “In my brief 90 days as a governing board member I have been impressed by my colleagues'  integrity, thoroughness and genuine concern for the district and its students.”  He voiced optimistim that he will eventually find a third vote to proceed to construction.

“In the meantime I anticipate that the more thoughtful Alpine residents, a vast majority, will allow the process to continue to conclusion without ad hominem attacks on the district and its employees,” Stieringer said.

ECM asked for comment from Superintendent Swenson on the situation.  District spokesperson Catherine Martin sent the following reply:

“We're following Board direction on the 12th high school. Following is language from GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson,” she wrote.

“In July of 2011, the Governing Board authorized staff to proceed with the planning for the 12th high school but because of the precipitous drop in per pupil funding over the last several years, the Board has decided to wait until funding was restored to 2008 levels ($6,514) before approving construction of the school.

GUHSD has declined by over 1,200 students in the last 2 years and we anticipate a further decline of 850 or more students in 2013-14, resulting in a net loss of over 2,000 students to our District. Per pupil funding today is $400 per pupil lower than it was when the bond passed in 2008. GUHSD is at a funding level that is over $1,700 per pupil lower than it should be had the State followed Prop. 98 funding requirements during that same period.

The Governing Board took the following action in December:

Retaining the $65 million budget; direct staff to complete ACOE and LAFCO permits and seek Governing Board approval for execution of those permits. Ratify the withdrawal of building design plans from DSA and place the school construction (including grading) on hold until enrollment thresholds and per pupil funding levels are met.”


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GUHSD Ethics Questioned...

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Maureen O'Connor was a physical education teacher who won a seat on the San Diego City Council when she was only 25 years old, later winning two terms as the city's first female mayor as she charmed voters with a populist flair.

... Are all of our politicians on the peripheral; doing questionably unethical things? likened to Maureen O'Connor,  Randy "Duke" Cunningham, (James KELLY)

"We have a simple test," it says. "Before you make any decision on behalf of the company ask yourself these questions: Is it illegal? Is it immoral? Is it unethical? Is it stupid? Most public officials who get into trouble should have answered ‘yes' to one of these questions. The same is true for companies that work for public agencies; like the Sweetwater Union High School District... perhaps, even the Grossmont Union High School District"... We wonder?

Do I hear "Grand Jury Investigation?", "Where is the money?"

"A 12th HS campus, with modern classroom and 21st Century curriculum offerings is good logic, to benefit all of the GUHSD, and attracts new students and new ADA revenues. It would prevent 600 + Alpine area students from Unifying out of the GUHSD (600 x $6,000 ADA per student = a loss of $3.6 million) which just might save the GUHSD from financial disaster which it is flirting with! This "Resolution outline" is only viable if (and only if) the $65,000,000 funding balance (minus the land at ~$20,000,000) of bonds remains available. The Approximate amount remaining of $45,000,000 in "Escrow", was promised by the GUHSD Superintendent, and approved by the Governing Board by a 5-0 vote, which was recorded via a Bd. Resolution that stated this was to be reserved in an escrow. As a matter of disclosure of facts, let's ask the GUHSD Administration, "show us our reserved escrow $45,000,000 reserved for the 12th high school." Where is our funding "Escrow" to be available when needed to complete the 12th high school as stipulated by resolution, and 5-0 decree by the GUHSD Board? Time for an Audit? The Prop H and U Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) has as their mandate of their Prop H & U, 55% vote passes Proposition 39, which was what created a CBOC to safeguard our Bond funds. "CBOC, where is the $45,000,000 reserve for the 12th HS Project, show us our promised escrow money, where is it?"




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To the editor:

I thank you for informing the public and readers of Patch.

Also: Dick Hoy and Priscilla Schreiber, I personally thank you both for NOT SUPPORTING board member Jim Stieringer’s thoughtful, however ill-conceived, 12th HS Resolution.

I propose that our collective thoughts be directed to something resembling the below for consideration. Any of your own thoughts or comments?

Below is a resolution outline proposed as a framework and basis for GUHSD board future consideration, with modifications as needed for a board majority consensus, then approval.

A Resolution in the Grossmont Union High School District

Pursuant to the summary statements and language contained in the passed 2004 Proposition H and 2008 passed Proposition U calling for the construction of a 12th new GUHSD high school campus serving the communities of greater Alpine and Blssom Valley, and

Whereas, Alpine 12th high school has met the bond’s enrollment trigger.

Whereas, Both Props. H and U called for building a 12th high school.

Whereas, Granite Hill High School is impacted and over utilized.

Whereas, approximately 600 Alpine students are causing overcrowding and safety concerns at GHHS.

Whereas, GUHSD needs [added revenues and new students commensurate] revenues of a 12th high school as predicted by [GUHSD consultant] professional demographer Vince O'Hara.

Whereas, the district Boundary Committee demonstrated a viable option for student realignment in “HS12 Modified” recommendation.

Whereas, it is probable that the AUSD unification effort would fail if the GUHSD honored its 12th high school bonded promise.

Whereas, a 12th new high school for 800 to 1,200 students would enhance the education quality for all of the GUHSD student bodies.

Whereas, construction costs are at historic lows.

Whereas, all of the GUHSD and East San Diego County would benefit if new HS12 construction were commenced ASAP.

Whereas, a regional economic stimulus would likely ensue if HS12 construction commenced.

Be it resolved, that the Governing Board of the GUHSD require that the superintendent submit plans to the Division of the State Architect (DSA), and upon approved plans being returned, immediately seek 12th high school campus site preparation, grading and construction bids, and reward the necessary lease-leaseback contracts and commence construction ASAP for an 800- to 1,200-student capacity 12th new high school.

Bill Weaver


12th new GUHSD HS Serving Greater Alpine & Blossom Valley Areas

What a fallacy (Or Non-Sensicle Fantasy) this response from GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson alludes. The declining GUHSD enrollment and loss of ADA Funds, IS THE VERY REASON A 12TH NEW HS IS NEEDED!

It was predicted with a degree of statistical certainty (by a Profession Demographer hired by the GUHSD to study the impact of a new 12th High School) that around 400 new students would be attracted into the GUHSD if, and only if, the new 12th HS is bilt and opened.

That is over $2 Million in NEW needed revenues to help float this school district. Are these GUHSD Administrators living in another Planet??