Cardiff School District OKs $22 million proposition


The Cardiff School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution to place a $22 million school facilities improvement proposition on the Nov. 8 ballot. The proposition, approved by the board at its public meeting on June 16, would fund major capital improvements primarily to the Cardiff School campus.

If approved by Cardiff voters, the $22 million in bond proceeds would be used to rebuild, upgrade, and renovate district facilities and to modernize and enhance student learning environments, according to a news release. Included in the plan are replacing leaky roofs, renovating or replacing deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems, and upgrading inadequate electrical systems.

Also, the district would rebuild Cardiff School’s 65-year-old classrooms, replace aging temporary portables with new classrooms at Cardiff School and Ada Harris School, and make health, safety and security improvements, including constructing a new Cardiff School multipurpose room (the old MPR is 55 years old) closer to the school’s main entrance to provide a safer campus layout. Additional projects include promoting energy efficiency with solar, sustainable buildings, and replacement of inefficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

“The board’s main priority is the students,” Mark Whitehouse, president of the Cardiff School District Board of Trustees said in the release. “Our district has excellent teachers and administration, great families, supportive business owners, and a long history of being one of the best school districts in San Diego, as a result of our focus on the students. The learning environment should also reflect this.

“Modern, naturally lit, well-ventilated classrooms will improve student learning. This project will also provide an opportunity to address student safety through a new, cohesive campus layout.”

Before passing the resolution, the board discussed setting up an Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee to ensure sound fiscal management of bond proceeds. It also agreed that, to keep the cost within the $22 million budget, priority would be given to solar energy in favor of additional parking, paving, and completion of the Ada Harris track. Solar and other energy efficiency initiatives will significantly decrease utility costs and the expected savings will be used to tackle ongoing maintenance needs.

Research will also be done on the public suggestion of working with the city of Encinitas and other state agencies to increase parking and improve traffic flow with crosswalks on the west side of San Elijo Ave., across from the school.

The board agreed that it is an optimal time for a school facilities improvement proposition, the most common and cost effective funding tool used by San Diego and California school districts. Historically, low interest rates and high voter turnout in a Presidential election year make this a good time to place a long-term facilities solution on the ballot for a large percentage of Cardiff residents to weigh in.

Locally in Cardiff, voters are no stranger to supporting major school renovations through local propositions, as they approved a school improvement proposition in 2000 with over 80 percent of the vote. Funds from that proposition were primarily used to rebuild Ada Harris School and also provided the Cardiff School campus with modernization of the old buildings, as well as a new library, computer lab and administration building and an art and science lab.

This new $22 million proposition is estimated to add a property tax of approximately $26.25 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to Cardiff residents. Similar to a home loan, the estimated pay off of the proposition would be 30 years.

The Cardiff School District Board of Trustees approved the resolution after over two years of research and gathering data and then obtaining community feedback this spring. In the fall of 2015, the board was presented with a Facilities Master Plan conducted by the San Diego County Office of Education, Facilities Solutions Groups that listed major renovations such as the replacement of 65-year-old inoperable, classroom windows, leaking roofs, and outdated plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Further facilities analysis showed needed upgrades or new construction projects, including the replacement of aging portable classrooms on both campuses, a safety retrofit of the brick building on the Cardiff campus and ADA compliance in the 1950s Cardiff School kitchen.

After discussing the need for major school improvement renovations, the board spent time this spring gathering community feedback.

If the school improvement proposition is approved by voters, further considerations for the architecture and design of the rebuilding will be undertaken with significant community input. A desire to honor the school’s history, charm and reflection of the unique character of the Cardiff community would frame the process, concluded the news release. – Submitted press release