Alpine Union School District answers questions about recent lawsuit against Grossmont Union High School District over high school bond funds
October 20, 2014,
Tuesday afternoon, AUSD filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against the Grossmont Union High School District (“GUHSD”) for the narrow purpose of obtaining an injunction against any further expenditure of Proposition H and U bond funds. This lawsuit is necessary to ensure that taxes paid by individuals who reside within AUSD’s boundaries will be spent as the voters directed—the construction of a new high school in Alpine. AUSD seeks the injunction in order to halt GUHSD from further spending of Prop H and Prop U funds until the State Board of Education renders its decision of the division of assets and liabilities between the districts.
AUSD, which is currently a K-8 school district, is awaiting final determination from the California Department of Education that would make it K-12 or “unified” school district, and would transfer rights to about $70 million in cash derived from local school bond proceeds to AUSD. GUHSD opposes the unification, and recently indicated that it desires to fully exhaust the moneys paid directly by Alpine taxpayers before the unification becomes final. GUHSD’s efforts in that regard are disturbing. Recently, the Grand Jury investigated and reported numerous instances of GUHSD’s intentional mismanagement of bond funds, and demanded that GUHSD place remaining funds in escrow to ensure construction of the Alpine high school it promised the voters. GUHSD did not comply.
Last month, the San Diego County Office of Education, serving as the County Committee on School District Reorganization, voted unanimously to recommend to the state that AUSD become a K-12 school, and to fairly allocate bond funds to it for the construction of the promised high school. The injunction sought by this lawsuit would ensure that those funds remain available as intended by the voters, the County Office of Education, the Grand Jury, and the California Department of Education.
AUSD simply wishes to ensure that school bond proceeds promised to, and paid by the community of Alpine are ultimately spent in Alpine. Because GUHSD is spending bond funds at a rate of $200,000 per day, AUSD and the co-plaintiff Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability were forced to seek the injunction to assure that bond money was no longer spent on unauthorized projects and that sufficient bond funds would be available to build the Alpine high school when the State renders its decision. Notably, the lawsuit does not seek to stop or enjoin ongoing construction projects, nor does it adversely affect GUHSD’s operational budget. Rather, it merely seeks to enjoin the unlawful allocation of dollars taken directly from the taxpayers.
There will be no adverse effect on GUHSD’s operating budget. By definition, no bond proceeds may ever be used as operating funds. Rather, bond proceeds can only be used for construction of the facilities described to the voters on the ballot, and are paid for directly by the taxpayers. Not one dime is paid from district operating dollars.
Why file the lawsuit now? AUSD brings the lawsuit at this time because the GUHSD Board of Trustees, through board action last month, officially indicated that it does not intend to comply with the intent of the taxpayers or the County Office of Education with regard to allocation of bond funds for the Alpine high school. This recent action by GUHSD is intolerable and unlawful, and must be enjoined.
Why is AUSD spending public dollars on a lawsuit? We believe the costs for the lawsuit are appropriate in light of the bond funds our community members are paying for, but not receiving the benefits of. If AUSD prevails as we expect, we intend to recover all fees and costs from GUHSD.
Will an injunction hurt GUHSD’s operational budget or create a deficit for classroom needs? NO. Bond proceeds are paid for directly by the taxpayers—by definition, not one dime comes from GUHSD’s operational budget.
Will this lawsuit affect current school construction projects? NO. This lawsuit seeks only to preserve status quo on unspent/unallocated bond proceeds so that money will be left for AUSD to construct the high school after unification process is complete. That is what the voters want, and that is what we intend to do.
For further information please contact: Bruce Cochrane (619) 445-3236