School District Offers Details of Bond Measure

Keith Butler, Assistant Superintendent Business Services

Facing draconian cuts in state funding, the Coronado Unified School district plans to ask taxpayers to pass a bond measure this June to eliminate it’s $2.8 million dollar structural deficit, to maintain classroom and upgrade security and information technology.

The move was in response to the adoption of state funding formula that gives more money to districts with English language learners and economically disadvantage students. Coronado has few of either. As a result, there will not be enough money to “adequately maintain its facilities and academic programs,” Superintendent Jeffrey Felix said.
He first prosed the idea at his State of the District address in January. Last Thursday the Governing Board held a special budget workshop to discuss placing the measure on the June primary ballot.

It asks voters to approve “issuing up to $35,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, with maturities under five years, all bonds repaid by July 31, 2026, less than $15,000,000 outstanding at any time…”

The trustees will vote on the measure at its February 18 meeting.

The district currently has 13 million in general obligation bonds. Two years ago it refinanced its bonds, saving taxpayers $3 million in interest payments, Felix pointed out.

This new bond would also have additional features that the district believes will reassure taxpayers. The have a short-turn around and will be overseen by an independent committee.

“A traditional school bond is 25-30 years costing $2.50 to $3.00 or more to pay off each dollar received for projects,” explained Keith Butler, Assistant Superintendent Business Services.

“These bonds will be issued for current projects, paid off quickly, and cost less than $1.05 for each dollar received for projects,” he added.

All of the money raised will remain in Coronado, unlike property taxes where only eight cents of every dollar comes back to the community, Butler pointed out.

To ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely, the bond resolution calls for an independent citizen oversight committee, with roots in the community. Only two members will have a school connection – a parent of a child in a district school and another active in a school council or PTA.

The approach is novel; Coronado would be the first district to try it. “I’ve never seen this in any other school district before,” said Tim Carty of Piper Jaffray, who advised the district in structuring the bond proposal.

The district has also sought the council and support of the San Diego County Tax Payers Association.

Chris Kay the organizations vice-president attended and explained what role, if any, the organization would play.
He demurred when asked if the organization would support the measure. “This is new for us to,” he said, referring to the unique structuring and controls the district is proposing.

No one in the near overflow crowd spoke against the measure. Everyone expressed support and a few tendered some advice.

“The community has to look at it as a necessary need, that [the district] has made efforts to cut as many expenses as possible and that this is a last resort,” Realtor Scott Aurich said.

Indeed the district has few funding alternatives.

The Coronado Schools Foundation, even with the Harpst endowment, cannot bridge the gap. “It’s only about a million dollars a year,” Felix said.

The schools foundation raised $753 thousand last year. The $3.8 million Frances Harpst gave to the foundation is held in a “legacy account” that gives the schools $160 thousand a year.

Because the high economic status of the community the district qualifies for few educational grants. “Because of our military, we have received DOD [Department of Defense] grants, but this is about it,” Felix said.

More information can be found on the CUSD website.

Views: 1166

Tags: city of coronado, community, prope, schools

Comment by Jerry Toci on February 10, 2014 at 12:35pm

I have read everything available from CUSD on the subject of their claim of financial dilemma.  However, more questions than answers remain as to where the money GOES, and CUSD refuses to provide bank records even in response to Public Records Requests.  The CUSD has pulled the wool over our eyes too many times in the past to be trusted (remember the still-ongoing $11mil "school pool" fiasco?)  Therefore, the lack of honesty and integrity I see in Dr. Jeffrey Felix now reflects onto the Board of Trustees as well.  Somebody will make a ton of money on this, and it won't be Coronado homeowners. No benefits will accrue to students.  My impression is that this "bond" issue will simply be an involuntary tax levied upon homeowners as a means to confiscate our money and enrich undeserving CUSD executives, who don't even live here.  Like all other districts, CUSD should operate within the budget established by the state.

Comment by Bill Cumming on February 17, 2014 at 9:29am

I am still waiting to be told how much it is going to cost each homeowner. I heard that 70% of the people will pay a few hundred dollars a year. THre number I read in the Eagle last week said 100$ per 100,000$ accessed value. That is a lot more than a few hundred dollars a year.

I think we need to stop the zone transfers into our district if we cannot atke care of our own strudents.

And anything that is going to cost property owners should only be voted on by property owners.

Comment by jef on February 17, 2014 at 3:09pm

WAKE UP CORONADO!!  Don't let them sweet-talk you into giving them an open credit card.  There are other solutions.  This bond plan has NOT been tried anywhere else before.  Why not?  Maybe the CUSD is smarter than ALL of the other school boards in America who have been in financial trouble.  This is just a runaway bond measure in the guise of smart financing.  NO ONE should borrow $$ for current operating costs.  It's a recipe for disaster.  And tell the liberal spenders in Sacramento to give Coronado their fair share of state property tax revenues.  That's where the problem lies and THAT'S where this problem needs to be fixed; NOT on the backs of hardworking Coronado taxpayers.  BTW:  This is NOT a "bond"; it is a TAX in disguise.

Comment by Lei Udell on February 19, 2014 at 1:47pm

It is disheartening to hear these kind of comments about "the CUSD," as if it were some faceless and far-removed entity. CUSD is our friends and neighbors; it is Bruce Shepherd, Dawn Ovrom, Brenda Kracht, Maria Simon, Ledge Hakes. And, of course, Dr. Felix and his administrative team. (A side comment: none of these people were on the school board that gave us the school pool.) Charges that these hard-working and well-intentioned people lack honesty and integrity are unfounded, undeserved, unhelpful, insulting and plain old rude.

Taxes are not fun. And, despite the budget information posted on the District's website, it is disappointing that  neither the Board nor Dr. Butler (Asst. Supt. for Business Affairs) has done a better job of creating financial transparency and a budget-sharing communication process that make it easy for us to see where the money is going and why it's not enough. However, that doesn't mean there is dishonesty or self-enrichment going on. And there is no evidence to support placing blame on the usual suspects, the ones that people have been grumbling about for at least 20 years-- top heavy administration and too many inter-district transfer students. (If you've got evidence, please! Bring it to the Board! Give them something to act on other than this bond measure!)

If you read the most recent School Board agenda, it contains an illuminating report on the task force that studied the delivery of special education services in our district-- the source of an annual drain on our general fund, to the tune of $2.7 million or more. Neither federal nor state sources are going to step up to fund these services, which we are mandated by law to provide.

Further, we are now educating students into a world driven by technology-- technology that updates continuously. No longer can a district budget for a new computer system every ten years, or every five. While the cost of technology has come down drastically since we put our first child in the laptop program years ago, the cost of providing this equipment, keeping it running, training teachers how to use it, keeping the necessary software updated-- it's not cheap. And it's not discretionary. We demand that our students have these opportunities.

For years, many of us have recognized that California's school funding has suffered ever since Prop 13. We in California pay a pittance of the property taxes paid by property owners in nearly every other state in this country. I have a little house back in Iowa where I grew up, it's worth maybe 1/10th of what my house is worth here in Coronado-- and my property taxes there are just slightly higher than my taxes here! Drives me nuts! But that's what funds education. Here in California, we don't do that anymore.

So yes, Dr. Felix asked the school board to bring the issue to the community: will we tax ourselves to support our local schools? Agreed, it is not prudent to borrow money to fund current operating costs. What Dr. Felix and Dr. Butler have proposed is to borrow money to fund some capital costs, like technology (equipment and rewiring), that are being paid for out of the operating budget. The final cost is estimated at less than $40 per $100,000 of assessed value (remember it's driven off your assessed value, generally what you paid for your home, and not its fair market or current value). For many of us, it will be about the same amount we have been giving for years to the Coronado Schools Foundation. Try to look at it that way, as a donation for the common good that you would have made anyway out of a sense of obligation to our community. And it's tax deductible too.

If you don't support it, that's fair. And understandable. But let's not trash-talk our school board, school administrators, school district. Whether you think they are right or wrong in their actions, they are doing what they see as the best for our students and our teachers.

Comment by Bill Cumming on February 19, 2014 at 4:09pm

Well a large portion of Coronado have higher assessed values on our homes because we may have purchaed them in the last 10 years. I dont think people expressing their views are trash talking. I think a home with a 3,000,000 assessed value paying an extra $1200 per year for the schools is excessive.

Before we start taxing more people, do an open book audit to see where we can trim.

As for the ever changing technology, business owners are faced with the same dilemma. They have to suck it up, tighten the belt, cut where they can and move forward.

The problem with most of the country is we have to learn to live within our means. If we take in a dollar we dont go out and spend 2.



Comment by eCoronado on February 19, 2014 at 4:58pm

Update from Dr. Felix:

School Board Votes to Place $29 Million Dollar Bond Measure on June Ballot


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