PROPOSITION U SEEKS FUNDS FOR CLASSROOM UPGRADES, NEW BUILDINGS IN GROSSMONT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

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By Miriam Raftery

Grossmont
Union High School District’s superintendent and four of five GUHSD
school board trustees agree that Proposition U is critical to repair and
replace aging buildings throughout the district—and build a long-awaited
new high school for Alpine.

“We can’t modernize the old industrial classrooms abandoned years
ago without Proposition U,” GUHSD Superintendent Robert Collins said
at an East County Chamber of Commerce meeting. 

The bond measure will provide funds for career tech courses as well as modernization
of buildings.  Some campus buildings date back to the 1920s and lack air
conditioning. 

“Prop U is an investment in our community,” Collins said.  “Does
it raise taxes? Yes, a little bit.  Will it bring people into East County”  Yes,
he predicted, noting that parents place high value on modern schools for their
children when choosing a place to live.

Voters in the district approved Proposition H in 2004, which allotted $274
million to repair crumbling buildings and provide access for disabled students.
At the time, board members acknowledged that the total was not enough to fund
all needed improvements.  Now Proposition U aims to complete the job.
Prop U, which requires a 55% approval to pass, would allocate $417 million,
or about $29.70 per $100,000 of assessed value.  That’s $60 a year
for the average home, or slightly over $1 a week.

San Diego Taxpayers Association supports the bond. The current board voted
4 to 1 in favor of putting the bond measure on the ballot.  Board president
Jim Kelly voted against the bond, which is also opposed by the San Diego Republican
Party. 

Of five candidates running for the GUHSD board, three support Prop U:  Larry
Urdahl, Priscilla Schreiber, and Carroll Boone.  The other two, Meg Jedynak
and Gary Woods, oppose the measure. 

“If you are against this bond, you are against children,”  Urdahl
told East County Magazine.  “Prop U will bring every high
school up to current standards that you seek in a modern high school. It will
get rid of all the portables. It will complete what Prop H didn’t finish,
plus it will enable us to build multi-purpose rooms in all the schools.”  Multi-purpose
rooms can be used as cafeterias, theaters or study halls and can also be rented
out to communities to use for conferences or events. 

Boone agrees.  “Part of making quality education an investment
in our communities is to maintain and repair the facilities,” she said.  “We’ve
just got to do it, even though people are feeling that it’s hard economically,
it will only get more costly.   We have buildings in disrepair; I’ve
heard tales of electrical wires hanging down and parts of ceilings falling
down.”

The bond will also provide capacity for career tech classes, which Urdahl
describes as upgrades over vocational education.   Students graduating
from career tech classes will be guaranteed actual jobs with local companies
or hospitals, he said.

Jedynak called the bond measure a “waste of taxpayers money’ at
a GUHSD candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and American
Association of university Women.  She also faulted Urdahl and Kelly for
adding $65 million for building of an “unnecessary school” – a
proposed high school for Alpine.

The bond measure would also allow construction of a new high school in Alpine
if district enrollment exceeds 23,000 students.   District enrollment
beat projections by 500 students this year “because we went door to door
and talked to all the kids who dropped out,” said Superintendent Collins.  “They
said `There is nothing there for us.’  We can bring them back.”   Career
tech programs are crucial to bring drop-out students back into the schools,
he believes. 

Jedynak and Woods oppose an Alpine High School, as well as the bond measure,
based on cost.  Kelly has called this the “worst time economically” for
a tax increase.

Boone, Schreiber and Urdahl have all voiced support for an Alpine High School. 

Alpine has actually been promised a high school several times and then the
funds have been used for something else, Boone observed.  “It’s
a matter of fairness, and we do need a new high school. Granite Hills is overcrowded
and a lot of students are coming down from alpine to go that school. It just
makes sense to have them go to Alpine.”

“I am absolutely committed to fight for Alpine High School if this bond
passes,” said Schreiber.

Urdahl, an Alpine resident,  said inflation raised costs for other projects,
preventing funds from being used for a new high school in Alpine.

Grossmont High School, open since 1922, is one of several
aging campuses in the district in need of upgrades, proponents of Proposition
U argue.

He expressed concerns over safety of students commuting from Alpine to other
areas on Interstate 8.  “We’ve already lost one student in
the past year,” he said.  “Somebody came across the freeway…a
football player was killed who was going to San Miguel.”  A year
earlier, another student’s death in a traffic accident led to the proposed
Zach’s Law, which would if approved would require schools go back to
teaching driver training. Urdahl also noted that with rising gas prices, more
students in Alpine are taking the bus—and missing out on after school
activities.

He predicts enrollment will increase, not decline, due in part to an influx
in population including Chaldean Christians from Iraq when the war ends.  “Our
goal now is by 2010 we will have purchased land and had EIRs and grading done,” he
said, adding that the new high school could be open by 2012 or 2013.

“If the current makeup of the board remains the same and the bond
passes, the timetable I gave you is very real,” he pledged.  “The
school in Alpine is part of the Superintendent’s vision.” But he
added, “If there is a change this election, then the incoming board to
vote to remove a high school altogether.”

Miriam Raftery is a national award-winning writer and graduate of the
GUHSD district.  Both of her children also graduated from GUHSD schools. 

Comments

Assembly Member Lori Soldaña endorses Boone

Thank you for this well-written article.

I encourage readers to go to my website, voteboone.org, for more information about me including many individual endorsements.

Here are a few recent endorsements:

Assembly Member Lori Soldaña, 76th Assembly District, San Diego, "Local school boards also face the challenge of establishing priorities and streamlining before making drastic cuts. I trust Carroll Boone will put the needs of students foremost in making these decisions.”

Ann Pierce, Alpine, Board President, Alpine Union School District

Nancy Goettler, La Mesa, Parent of Helix HS Graduate, “We need someone whose only agenda is to make sure all of our kids are safe and get a good education at our public schools.”

Rita Mooney, El Cajon, Mother of 2 Grossmont Union District Students, “I trust that Carroll has the highest good and best outcome of our students in her heart and mind.”

Sincerely,

Carroll Boone, Candidate for Grossmont Union High School District Board

Board Vote re Prop U

This is an excellent piece indeed. One minor clarification. Ms. Raftery correctly states that Grossmont Board member Jim Kelly voted against the $417m Prop U as presented on August 4, 2008 at a GUHSD Board Meeting. Prop U, as approved at that meeting and as currently on the Nov 4th ballot, provides for, among other things, a high school in the Alpine/Blossom Valley area provided that District wide student enrollment equals or exceeds its current level when the District goes to solicit construction bids to build such school.

What the article does not mention, however, is that Mr. Kelly supported a different version of the $417m Prop U in a televised Board vote at the Board's July 31, 2008 Board meeting. That version of Prop U contained language that would have made construction of an Alpine/BV high school nearly impossible but nevertheless would have raised the same $417m.

My point is that Mr. Kelly's opposition Prop U has nothing to do with seeking to save taxpayer money since he supported a $417m measure on July 31. Instead, Kelly's opposition to current Prop U is based solely on his opposition to an Alpine/BV high school. He's a tax and spender, all right, so long as it would not involve a project supported by his nemesis on the Board, Ms. Schreiber and Mr. Urdahl.