Opinion/Letters to the Editor: June 2020
June 19 issue:
Safe gun storage essential
With the closure of schools throughout San Diego, parents not only have the responsibility of keeping children safe from the spread of COVID-19, but also the dangers of unsecured firearms in the house.
Nearly 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a household with at least one gun that is stored loaded and unlocked. Deadly unintentional shootings by children increased 43% in March and April compared to average gun deaths during the same two months over the last three years (Everytown For Gun Safety).
We need to be aware that children and teens with time on their hands are in danger of finding these weapons and causing another preventable, unintentional shooting.
Safe gun storage, including storing guns locked, unloaded or separate from ammunition, reduces rates of accidents or child firearm suicide.
We’re asking our neighbors to take extra precautions during this pandemic and to store their firearms safely.
Concerns about SDUHSD fall reopening options/lack of mask requirement
The letter below was sent to the San Dieguito Union High School District board, superintendent and San Dieguito Academy principal. It was also submitted to this newspaper for publication. The letter was submitted Saturday, June 13 so timing references in the letter are referenced as of that date.
I received the survey with the options for the fall. I am very concerned by a couple of points noted for these options:
I am troubled that students will not be required to wear masks. (Followup from this letter’s author: The superintendent sent a lengthy reply to me, noting that “no final decisions have been made.”) Allowing students to forego face coverings is a significant and unnecessary risk to the teachers, students, and their families’ health. Numerous scientific studies support wearing masks as an effective way to reduce the risk of transmission, and the county health department has ordered that “All persons… shall wear [a] face covering whenever… within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household.”
Also, I noticed in the new survey sent this week that it says that if you pick the remote/hybrid option, not all classes may be available. Could you offer the opportunity to be remote when possible, but come to campus just for the courses that require it (with masks)? We are concerned that if we select this option out of concern for the safety of our family, that you will prevent our son from taking some classes that he may want or need. It is frustrating to have to choose between our family’s safety and access to courses that may be important to his education.
I would also request that you provide a more visible outlet for parents to give feedback. I only learned of ThoughtExchange from the the Solana Beach Sun article this week. When I read the article, I searched for and found the link at the bottom of an email titled “Superintendent’s Update”; the nonobvious placement of the ThoughtExchange link in the email and the lack of mention of a request for input in the email subject line made this opportunity very easy to miss. And this ThoughtExchange link now says, “This exchange is now complete” and won’t allow further input even though you sent the email only three weeks ago. I also find it frustrating and odd that the new, much more visible survey (linked in bold text as “Survey Link”) sent to parents this week has no place for any feedback or comments. Given that you only received 3,700 “thoughts” (as noted in the Solana Beach Sun article) from a district the size of SDUHSD, I would strongly recommend and ask that you give parents a more visible avenue for input and feedback on these newly published options.
A concerned parent of an SDA sophomore
Partial obstruction of views more likely reason for objection to school expansion
Eleanor Musick’s letter of June 5 suggests that the Cardiff School District was not honest. Consider the fact that the opposition against the district was initiated by a small group, led by Musick. Five of six individuals in the group live across the street from the school. This group maintains that their objection to the school expansion was for reasons having to do with an incursion into the district’s owned land onto George Berkich Park. It is really more likely their honest objection had to do with the probability that their views would be partially obstructed. That’s the truth. You can review the public meeting records and see that the OGALS and NPS boundary adjustment was brought up as an issue long after the initial district community meetings were conducted. This group discovered that the district was thought to be violating the use agreement between the city and the district. They then transitioned to a position of opposition based mostly on their interpretation that the expansion could not take over space that was defined in the boundaries for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Project Agreement executed by the city and the school district.
It is true that the district was not cognizant of particulars as the agreement was signed into existence in 1993. Institutional knowledge and historical memory unfortunately wasn’t engaged. However, it is also important to point out the city itself did not recall the agreement as they had approved construction for a prior bond issue into the disputed land area.
What is also true is that Musick’s group sued the school district and garnered a settlement to the tune of $500,000. Legal extortion. The school district was forced to make a business decision about expending substantial further funds in defending Musick’s lawsuit. Most likely the school district would have prevailed, but it would have spent several million dollars going forward and, in the meantime, the current construction was suspended with significant delay costs being owed to the general contractor for having to stop their work on the project.
As it is, Musick’s group has thus far cost the school district in excess of $4 million comprised of legal costs, project impact changes and other fees! I am also of the opinion that all of this could have been avoided had the city mayor and city council facilitated the boundary adjustment. The city was uncooperative and seemingly opposed to helping the school district and that is another story in itself that will ultimately be revealed.
M. Boone Hellmann
Cardiff by the Sea
June 5 issue:
The new Cardiff Way
The Cardiff Way counsels students: “Be Honest.” Cardiff School District’s press release published in this paper on May 22, 2020 about a loan obtained for construction at Cardiff School makes clear they don’t practice what they preach.
The district’s statement claims that OGALS, the state agency overseeing the park conversion, “assured the District that no redesign was necessary … and that only the interference of these neighbors … caused a delay in the approval process.”
The district learned about the federal protection of Berkich Park in February 2018. The district initiated discussions with OGALS in March 2018 while forging ahead with plans it had already finalized to expand into the park. OGALS advised the district of the requirements for boundary adjustment, however, no application was submitted until February 2019. A month later, after OGALS forwarded the application to the National Park Service, the only agency authorized to approve a conversion, OGALS notified the district that their application was unlikely to be approved.
Junk e-mail folders are often filled with congratulations for winning millions in some sweepstakes. Some people are fooled, but wiser minds think, “wait – I didn’t enter any sweepstakes – how could I win?” With these claimed “assurances,” how is it possible for OGALS to assure approval if the district hadn’t even submitted the required application for review? Is it reasonable to believe a state agency with no approval authority for a federal program could assure approval?
In sworn deposition testimony, the district’s bond manager could not identify any documents, or even a single person, to corroborate these “assurances.” He also testified that the district never considered alternative plans to avoid building in the park – a prerequisite to submitting a conversion application. This testimony was confirmed by the project architect.
One might ask how the district finally gained approval from the NPS, more than two years after being asked to not expand into the park. The answer is that the district threatened to sue OGALS, giving them until close of business November 25, 2019 to approve the conversion. Not coincidentally, the approval signed by the district and OGALS on that very day includes the district’s promise not to sue OGALS or NPS.
“Be Honest” is not a policy practiced by the district. Topping it off with bullying, one hopes the children they are charged with educating know to do as they say and not as they do.