Cardiff School District receives results from community on school improvement bond measure


Cardiff School District, a small, two-school district, received results from its community outreach efforts to gauge the support on proceeding with placing a school improvement bond measure on the November ballot for major capital improvements to its facilities, according to a press release. The public meeting of the Board of Trustees took place Thursday evening, June 9.

Having 7,110 registered voters in the district, the board felt that it was important to obtain feedback regarding the major capital improvements needed at the schools before embarking on the school improvement measure. The board sought input from an expansive group of residents using a variety of different methods including, telephone polling of the registered voters in the district, surveying currently enrolled district families, community meetings from a diverse facilities focus group, and listening to public comments from residents at board meetings. Overall, results indicate that the Cardiff-by-the-Sea community would support a school improvement measure for major capital improvements.

“We are very pleased with the high level of community participation in the polling, surveys and public comment opportunities regarding the future of our students’ education,” said Mark Whitehouse, president of the Cardiff School District Board of Trustees. “Built over 100 years ago, Cardiff School was once a model in California for its facilities and excellent learning environment. The board wants to ensure the community is continuing to give our students the highest quality learning environments available and appreciates the support and feedback to proceed with doing so.”

Polling Results

Voter polling data revealed that 79 percent of the district’s registered voters surveyed by telephone believe in the need for more funding and 74 percent would support a measure, if placed on the November 2016 ballot, reported by Jon Isom, president of Isom Advisors, a financial advisory firm to school districts throughout California and currently working with 40-50 California school districts on similar bond measures. With voter support well above the 55 percent threshold needed to win in November, Isom Advisors recommends the board proceed with placing a bond measure on the ballot.

Facilities Focus Group Results

A Facilities Focus Group, comprised of 31 diverse residents representing local businesses, the community, parents and district staff, met three times to obtain information, discuss and ultimately provide feedback on the facilities needs. At the final meeting the group was asked to rank project priorities. Replacement of the 20-30-year-old portable classrooms, rebuilding the 65-year-old Cardiff classrooms and rebuilding the Cardiff Schools’ multipurpose room to increase safety and occupancy ranked among the highest three priorities, all with over 85 percent of the participants supporting these projects. Lower support was given to repaving the Ada Harris School upper parking lot, retrofitting the Cardiff School campus historic brick building and increasing parking at Cardiff School. In addition, 56 percent of the Facilities Focus Group were in favor of a $22 million bond.

Additional feedback from the Facilities Focus Group included strong support for eco-friendly building projects such as installing solar panels to offset energy costs.

Parent Survey Results

Parents of currently registered students were asked to complete an online survey to rate the current facilities and also rank project priorities. Of the 173 responses received, 94 percent rated the quality of education in Cardiff School District as excellent or good. The Ada Harris facilities ratings were favorable, with 79 percent considering them as excellent or good. Cardiff School facilities ratings were mixed, with 59 percent of the group rating the facilities as adequate to poor. The highest ranking project priorities included the Cardiff School multipurpose room, replacing the portables, and the Cardiff School classrooms. The parent survey indicated that 80 percent would be in favor of a $12 million to $22 million bond.

Public Comments

Public comments during the public board meetings has been mixed. Comments range from agreement that a bond measure is needed, with various opinions regarding the dollar amount, to others who oppose all bonds and new taxes.

Other Considerations

In addition to the community input, the board is considering the optimal timing for a school facilities improvement bond measure due to the combined effect of high assessed valuation and historically low interest rates. The upcoming November election is also expected to have high voter turnout and will enable a large percentage of the Cardiff community to weigh in.

Timeline going forward

It is expected that a resolution regarding the school improvement bond measure for major capital improvements will be voted on by the Board at a special board meeting scheduled for June 16 at 5 p.m. at the Cardiff School auditorium. All meetings are open to the public, and community input is encouraged. The deadline to pass and submit a resolution to the County Registrar of Voters for inclusion on the November ballot is Aug. 12.

— Submitted press release from the Cardiff School District.