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|San Bernardino, Riverside County, CA||November 8, 2005 Election|
High School #3 in Grand Terrace
By Tobin BrinkerCandidate for Governing Board Member; COLTON Unified School District; Trustee Area 2
This information is provided by the candidate
This article explains the issues around building High School #3High School #3
My TOP priority as a school board member is building High School #3. I was elected four years ago, two months after the successful bond campaign. I was a member of the bond committee and supported passage of the $102 million dollar bond. Building a New High School in Grand Terrace was one of the reasons so many people supported the bond. The school board has worked aggressively to secure the land necessary to build the High School. We recently purchased the final piece of land necessary to begin construction.
However, much has changed in the four years since the bond was passed. I decided to write this article as a way of informing the public about the challenges we have faced in moving this project forward and the steps we will need to take in the immediate future to ensure the successful and timely completion of the project.
In 1999, before I was elected to the board, the district sued by the owners of Montecito cemetery. The lawsuit was a result of the district's use of imminent domain in the acquisition of a piece of property at the mouth of Reche Canyon. After hiring numerous expert witnesses and lawyers the district lost the case and the land in 2000. The newspapers at the time reported that it cost the district $1.5 million dollars. The Reche Canyon property was crisscrossed with fault lines and other technical problems.
When I was elected in 2001 the district had no property for High School #3. By the summer of 2002 we had identified two properties but each had significant drawbacks. The board requested that the district conduct environmental impact studies of each property and simultaneously keep looking for a better option. During this time the director of facilities left the district. It took six months to find a competent replacement. We also hired a new Assistant Superintendent of Business in that time. By the Fall of 2002 we had our Environmental Studies which confirmed that each property had serious drawbacks. One property (called the Roque Property) was located in an isolated industrial area of south Rialto. All students would have to be bussed to the school and it would be surrounded by trucking and manufacturing companies. The property was also in the "fly zone." A large portion of our district is in an area where the Del-hi sands flower loving fly (an endangered species) lives. This means we must do a two year long mitigation study before we can build. If the fly is discovered on the land it can cost thousands of dollars and years of time to develop an acceptable development plan. This fly is what caused such long delays in the building of the county hospital. The second property was on the back side of La Loma Hills. Here we were looking at a much larger property (over 300 acres). If we purchased this property we believed we could build a High School, a middle School and a new maintenance facility and bus yard. Unfortunately, a large portion of the property was granite hill-side and would require extensive blasting and earth moving equipment to make it level and usable. Again, this would add tremendous costs and time to construction. This property also lacked any basic utilities and the district would have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to build water lines and electric lines and roads.
In the Spring of 2003 after a joint meeting with the Grand Terrace city council we were contacted by the city to discuss city owned property near Pico Park. After initial discussions, we identified that there was indeed enough property to build a High School at that location, a significant number of kids live within walking distance and the city promised to help us financially and materially in the building of High School #3.
It took until the fall of 2003 to work out the initial details as the city repeatedly asked for changes and failed to live up to their initial promises. Specifically, they asked the district to change our location and move our High School Property to the South so that they could develop the Out Door Adventure Center (OAC). So instead of buying all city owned property we would have to deal with 11 private land owners. Next, we discovered that a Water line traversed the site diagonally and would need to be moved to make the land more usable. It can only be moved during the winter months because of peak usage during the summer. Luckily the OAC would also require the water line to be moved so we were able to share the cost with the city. It has taken the district until just this month to acquire the 40 acres (minimum) needed to build a High School. We will be having a ground breaking soon. In the four years since the bond has passed much has changed to dramatically increase the Cost of the New High School. Some of those changes are:
Applying for hardship funds is simply a way to maximize our bond dollars. Both San Bernardino and Fontana Unified recently applied for hardship money to help them gain the necessary funds to complete all of their projects. Selling the remaining bonds and applying for hardship are linked because the state requires a certain amount of indebtedness as well as student population growth. After we apply for hardship we will need to wait one year to receive the additional money that is why it is important to begin this process now. If we want to open High School #3 on time in 2008 then we must begin this process right now.
The Bond Oversight Committee will also recommend selling our remaining bonds under the government code versus the education code. This change of procedure will also to reduce the tax implications on the homeowners of the district by spreading the cost of paying back the bonds over 38 years instead of 25. I support the Bond Oversight Committee's recommendations. I believe that these are important and necessary steps that we must take to deal with the population growth in our district.
Position Paper 3
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