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.”