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Alpine Union School District Community Forums Scheduled to Guide the Future of District

Alpine Union School District Community Forums

In the spirit of continued improvement, the Alpine Union School District (AUSD) launched a Thoughtexchange in September where we asked our community to share their thoughts and ideas about the future of our District.

The response to our Thoughtexchange was tremendous. More than 500 ideas were submitted. The level of engagement demonstrated that we have an enormous opportunity to channel the passion, ideas, hopes and dreams of our students, staff, parents and community into an organized, efficient and innovative plan of action to improve our District.

After reviewing the results of our Thoughtexchange and a range of District data, a Superintendent’s Advisory Task Force comprised of parents, teachers, staff, community members and administrators have been working diligently to identify options to help guide the future of our District. The Task Force presented these options to the AUSD Board of Trustees at the January School Board Meeting. At the upcoming February School Board meeting, the Board of Trustees will discuss the options and identify which will be prioritized for future action.

With any potential change to our schools, it requires careful consideration and deep community involvement. We want to make sure that we continue to gather the feedback of our staff, parents, students, and community members. The Board of Trustees has made it clear that we need your continued thinking to deepen and enrich the conversation around any potential changes to our District. We have scheduled a series of community forums at each school site.  Everyone is welcome to attend any or all of the forums. The dates for the forums are listed below:

February 25, 2019 – Alpine Elementary Library – 6 PM

February 26, 2019 – Shadow Hills Elementary Library – 6 PM

March 5, 2019 – Joan MacQueen Middle School Library – 6 PM

March 6, 2019 – Creekside Early Learning MultiPurpose Room  – 6 PM

March 7, 2019 – Boulder Oaks Auditorium – 6 PM

Thank you in advance for your continued support and willingness to engage with us in making Alpine Union the Destination District of East County.

Submitted By Mary Ann Alvarez, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent – Alpine Union School District 619-445-3236 EMAIL: malvarez@alpineschools.net

Alpine Union School District – Reorganization for the Future & A High School

*Submitted By George Barnett – January 16, 2019

I attended the January 9, 2019 School Board meeting, and these are my personal thoughts…..

Based on extensive public input and surveying via the ThoughtExchange process, the Superintendent’s Advisory Task Force has formed three Subcommittees to define forward strategic proposals for improving education in Alpine; the High School Subcommittee, the District Marketing Subcommittee and the School Options Subcommittee.

The members of each Subcommittee are listed in the attachment. Members include a selection of District principals, teachers, service & instruction support staff, parents and community members. Among these are; a manufacturing business owner, a technology innovation business owner, a former school superintendent/education innovation expert, and an assistant city manager/head of a city Public Works Department.

The Board’s priorities are also attached. The first three are; improving student achievement; improving educational opportunities for students; and ensuring fiscal responsibilities. In my mind, the balance nine priorities relate to supporting the first three.  Also attached are 9 proposals being evaluated – and explained below:

The High School Subcommittee is looking at four proposals for an Alpine High School – from working with Grossmont UHSD to different charter operations.

The Marketing Subcommittee is looking at a multi-faceted program of promoting our District and its superb programs and unique partnerships; and those marketing ideas can be rolled-out right-a-way.

The School Options Subcommittee is reviewing four proposals for consolidating the AES/BOES grade schools; two proposals for keeping AES independently operated; two proposals for consolidating kindergarten into the grade schools.  These are proposals only, and the Pro’s and Con’s need to be developed.  Part of the theme of consolidation is to better align curriculum from grade to grade and from grade school to middle school.  One idea is to be able to offer an education Pathway that is unique to, and better than, other school districts.  And, a proposal to house an Alpine high school within existing infrastructure is part of this.

Each Subcommittee will be developing the Pro’s and Con’s of every proposal, and will present final thoughts and information to the School Board for review, comment and top level prioritization. Of course, each Subcommittee will also determine the Pro’s and Con’s of maintaining the status quo.  That is, doing nothing.

During the period February 13 to March 12, community engagement and feedback will be sought. At the March 13th Board meeting, final Subcommittee recommendations will be presented. The Board may select and approve specific strategies and plans to transform our District for a strong academic future.

If approved, work towards achieving that future would then begin immediately.  It is likely that a transformation might take the entire 2019-2020 school year.  That seems to imply that any high school option could include an opening for the fall of the 2020-2021 school year.

Watch for District notices on this transformation of education in Alpine.

 

Proposition H/U Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Meeting – March 28, 2018

Grossmont Union High School District
Proposition H/U Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Meeting
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 Grossmont Union High School District Office Main Conference Room (Upstairs) 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

VIEW AGENDA HERE
CBOC Agenda March 28 2018

GUHSD Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) Meeting – January 31, 2018

Grossmont Union High School District Proposition H/U Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Meeting (CBOC)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Grossmont Union High School District Office Conference Room

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

 

VIEW AGENDA HERE

CBOC Agenda January 2018

*Submitted by: Louis Russo louisfrusso@gmail.com

GUHSD School Choice Application (Open Enrollment / School Transfer) Deadline is March 2, 2018

Dear GUHSD Parents,

 

This notice is for parent/guardians of students wishing to request a school transfer for the 2018-19 school year.   The window of opportunity to submit a School Choice application, once called Open Enrollment is currently open and will close on March 2, 2018 at 4:00 PM.  To be considered for a School Choice transfer we must receive your application by this deadline.

To submit your request(s), log into your Infinite Campus Portal account, click on the School Choice tab located to the left of the screen and make your selection(s).  You may submit up to 4 requests.  Once you are finished, click on the Submit Applications button and log out of your Portal account.

If you have any questions about the School Choice process or need assistance, please visit the district website or call Application Support at (619) 956 – HELP (4357).  Due to high call volume we may be unable to answer your call right away.  Please leave a detailed voicemail and we will get back to you the next day or sooner.

Thank you.

Application Support, ETS
Grossmont Union High School District

Letter to the EDITOR: To All the Alpiners That Want an Alpine High School, “DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED”!

By George Barnett

To all you Alpiners that want an Alpine high school, “Do not be discouraged”! 26 of your friends and neighbors and children traveled to Sacramento last week (read story here) to present our case before the State Board of Education (SBE),  The SBE had much sympathy and support for Alpine having its own high school.  It also harshly admonished Grossmont, and told Grossmont it had to repair a breech of trust Grossmont caused with Alpine.

Much more important, the State Board of Education suggested two clear and viable alternate routes to an Alpine high school; both of which it would support.

More on that later…..But keep your chins up!  I believe we will have an Alpine high school sooner than one might think.

 

Submitted By George Barnett 619-659-0345

EMAIL ME HERE

 

 

DOUBLE BLOW: Court Ruling and State Decision AGAINST UNIFICATION Knock Down Hopes for ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL

(Shared from East County Magazine) http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/double-blow-court-ruling-bond-funds-and-state-decision-against-unification-knock-down-hopes-alpine

By Paul Kruze; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

January 21, 2018 (Alpine) — Just as students returned to school after winter break last week, lawyers for the Alpine Union School District (AUSD), Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability and Grossmont Union High School District returned to court in front of a three-judge tribunal headed by Associate Justice Patricia D. Benke of the 4th District California Superior Court of Appeals.

But a week later, the court panel upheld an earlier ruling by Judge Pressman against Alpine, agreeing that the GUHSD need not keep millions of dollars set aside for an Alpine High School that now may never be built, despite previous bond measures approved by voters that included funds for the school. Then on Friday, the State Board of Education denied Alpine’s unification petition that would have enabled the AUSD to build the high school. The double losses may prove to be knock-out blows for the hard-fought effort to bring a high school to Alpine.

The appeal was filed last spring after a trial judge ruled that the GUHSD was under no obligation to build a high school as it had promised to the Alpine School District (AUSD) because an enrollment trigger of 23,245 students in the Grossmont district had technically not been reached “at the time of release of request for construction bids,” according to Grossmont’s argument.

At a hearing where cameras and audio recording devices were not allowed, attorneys for the AUSD and a local taxpayers group, Alpine Taxpaters for Bond Accountability (ATBA), argued that Judge Joel Pressman had erred in his decision. (See official recording obtained from the court above.)

Attorney Jon R. Williams from the law firm Williams Lagmin LLP, representing AUSD, said that the meaning and intention of Proposition U, a ballot measure which was supposed to fund the measure, had never been tried in court. They said that the GUHSD had effectively started construction by purchasing six parcels of real property, leveling and demolishing homes where the high school was to be built on former ranch lands.

“We’re talking here about heavy machinery out there at the site actually knocking down homes, moving earth, doing work which is typically referred to as ‘construction,’ hiring contractors to do that kind of work,” Williams said. “And notably at that time, they received bids to do that work — that demolition work, that scraping of the land. The enrollment trigger had been satisfied — that was in 2010.” Williams continued. He added that there was work at the site far beyond just site development.

*Continue reading here…..

Alpine Takes its Bid for a High School to Sacramento

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/east-county/sd-se-alpine-school-20180111-story.html

 

Alpine has never had a high school of its own. That’s not for want of trying.

For nearly two decades, the tiny mountain community has tried to create an independent educational district, one that unifies a high school with its elementary schools and lone middle school.

Each time, it has been met with disappointment.

That outcome looks to repeat itself this week if the state Board of Education accepts the recommendation of its staff to deny Alpine’s latest bid to add a high school to its K-8 lineup.  A public hearing on the application is set for Jan. 19 and there will be plenty of local representation on hand.

Personnel from the Alpine Union and Grossmont Union High school districts, including Grossmont Superintendent Tim Glover and Alpine Superintendent Rich Newman and members of their school boards, will be in Sacramento for the public hearing.

The California Department of Education earlier this month recommended the board reject Alpine’s plan to add a high school. If the board agrees, Alpine will continue to send its kids to other parts of the Grossmont district after middle school.

Grossmont Union High School District schools currently serve about 22,000 students. After finishing eighth grade at Joan MacQueen Middle School, students in Alpine typically go to Granite Hills High School in El Cajon or Steele Canyon High School in Jamul. Getting to both involves long drives along the freeway or winding local roads. That remains frustrating to parents like Wendy Gilbert, who want their kids to stay local. Gilbert and her husband, Chad, moved to Alpine in 2004 with hopes that by the time their son was born in September of that year, there would be a high school for him to attend.

“We were always thinking, ‘If they build it, the people will come,’” Gilbert said. “We loved the community and when we heard they were getting a high school, we thought, ‘Great! Awesome!’ My son’s now 13, in eighth grade… and here we are. It’s horrible.” Gilbert’s son and about 150 other students will graduate from MacQueen this year.

San Diego County’s most recent district to unify was Bonsall, which began proceedings to do so in 2004. Its high school opened in the 2014-15 school year with 65 students. It now has 330 students and will graduate its first senior class this year.

Alpine has been trying to form a unified district since 2002, and has wanted to give residents an opportunity to vote on unification. In November 2004, the state board disapproved a previous Alpine unification proposal.

As for Alpine, the state board has two other options besides denial. One is to determine that the proposal has merit and send it back to the local level for further action. The other is to delay action until more information is received.

Some of the reasons the state believes unification should not be granted are:

  • Declining student enrollment in Alpine
  • School facility costs and the likelihood that a new Alpine unified school district would be unable to obtain sufficient funding to construct a new high school
  • Fewer academic and extracurricular opportunities of a smaller Alpine high school compared to options available at schools in the Grossmont district

Newman said that he would be speaking in depth to the state board members about what a high school in Alpine might look like, and explain that it would not be traditional, but rather “something innovative.”

“What we are looking at in the development of a school is something state-of-the-art in what it would offer,” Newman said. “It would be personalized in nature and offer unique opportunities, very different than a traditional high school. Our world is changing dramatically every day and schools need to be able to adapt.”

The County Board of Education in August 2014 voted to back unification for Alpine. Last year, the San Diego County Committee on School District Organization held public hearings and determined that Alpine met the necessary requirements in the California Education Code for approval of its petition to unify.

Alpine petitioners decided to give it a go again because residents in the area became frustrated that two successful general obligation bond measures that Grossmont Union High School District area voters passed haven’t resulted in the building of a high school for Alpine-area high school students

The bonds totaling nearly $700 million — Proposition H in 2004 and Proposition U in 2008 — included language about the plan to construct a high school in Alpine.

The district did purchase land for the school and has obtained some permits and approvals for construction, and developed some designs, but has not moved any further on it.

Petitioners also said they want a unified Alpine school district for several other reasons, including being more responsive to the unique needs of the Alpine community and geographically isolated high school students, increased collaboration among elementary school staff, high school staff and the community and a school that will provide a shorter and safer commute.

Grossmont district Superintendent Glover said he agrees with the state’s finding that Alpine be denied its request.

“It’s clear that the state spent a significant amount of time conducting a careful review of the facts before making their recommendation,” Glover said via email.

In documentation shared with the public about the coming meeting, the Grossmont district said it believes that if unification occurs, it would “result in harm to our students, teachers and community” and that it is unclear if an Alpine Unified School District “could pass the size of a school bond necessary to build a high school” or could fund the operational costs of a comprehensive high school program.

The state board of education report said that Grossmont believes that a new district “would be at risk of financial failure, threatening the elementary programs of the district.”

 

GUHSD Proposition H/U Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Meeting – September 27, 2017

Grossmont Union High School District

Proposition H/U Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Meeting

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Grossmont Union High School District Office Conference Room

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

CBOC Agenda September 2017

View Chair Board Report to the Governing Board for this meeting here:

CBOC CHair Report Sept. 27, 2017

Alpine Urged to VOTE NO ON MEASURE BB – Grossmont’s “BAD BOND”

vote-noon-measure-bbWhat has Alpine and Blossom Valley gotten from these huge bond measures? Not a thing – not even a stick in the ground. There is NO ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL under construction and despite specific references in both H and U (and now in BB) to construct the high school, there are NO PLANS, now or in the future, to do so….

All voters in Alpine and Blossom Valley are urged to vote NO on Measure BB – probably one of the worst propositions on the November ballot.  Measure BB has been appropriately nick named “BAD BOND”.  Here’s why it deserves this title and your NO vote.

Measure BB will increase property taxes to support a bond measure for the Grossmont Union High School District.  BB states the bond will pay for needed repairs, renovation, and upgrades to its existing high schools and a new high school to serve Alpine and Blossom Valley.  It’s as if Grossmont was asking voters for the first time to approve such worthy objectives.  If you think that you’ve heard all of this before, you are correct.  Measure BB is the third time Grossmont has asked voters to approve taxpayer funds for these tasks, including an Alpine/Blossom Valley high school.  Don’t be fooled.  Grossmont has no intention to build our long overdue high school and the amount of this bond cannot even fund a fraction of the projects listed.  It is a complete fraud on voters and taxpayers.

When the $128 Million set forth in BB is added to the two prior bonds (Props H and U) the total amount of the 3 bonds (plus state matching funds for which you are also taxed) will exceed an astounding $1 Billion!  Taken together these 3 bond measures add about $300-$400/year in taxes for the average Alpine and Blossom Valley homeowner.  Keep in mind you probably have already paid thousands of dollars to Grossmont since the passage of H in 2004 and U in 2008.  When interest is added, Alpiners alone will have to pay back $125 million to bond holders and you will continue to pay this steep bill for decades to come.

Grossmont has “authority” to issue another $100+ million in Prop U bonds so why are they asking for this new bond?  Grossmont has burned through bond funds so quickly it reached the maximum amount it can tax property owners under that bond.  In other words, it has maxed out its credit card against you, the taxpayer, and can’t borrow any more money in the bond market for several years.  Grossmont now has the audacity to come back to ask taxpayers for a “bridge loan”, Measure BB, so they can get their hands on your hard earned money to cover their lavish spending plans until the Prop U spigot re-opens.

What has Alpine and Blossom Valley gotten from these huge bond measures?  Not a thing – not even a stick in the ground.  There is no Alpine high school under construction and despite specific references in both H and U (and now in BB) to construct the high school there are no plans, now or in the future, to do so.  In fact, all work on the school has ceased and the design plans for the school were withdrawn in 2012.  The school is at the bottom of Grossmont’s project list and all bond funds will be long gone before a spade of dirt is lifted to build the school.

However, Grossmont did spend $25 Million of your tax dollars to acquire the Lazy A site (90 acre parcel adjacent to the Albertson’s center), develop detailed architectural plans, and acquire state and federal environmental permits to build the school on the site.  Unless construction commences soon (which it won’t) these critical permits will expire, rendering the Lazy A completely worthless as a school site and flushing your $25 Million down the drain.

So what has Grossmont done with the huge sum of money collected under H and U?  In addition to the Alpine/Blossom Valley school, they told voters bond funds would be used to “repair, renovate, rehabilitate, and upgrade facilities”, just like they are now stating in BB.  Instead much of that money went to build new Olympic size swimming pools and aquatic centers, performing arts theaters, day care facilities, administrative offices, and other pork barrel projects while badly needed renovations in many schools went undone.  They also spent bond funds on management fees, administrative overhead, and legal fees.  In other words, instead of building what they told voters, the bond funds have been spent on whatever favorite projects were lobbied for by those political constituents most favored by the Grossmont governing board.

Grossmont claims there will be “strict fiscal accountability” for how they handle BB bond funds with oversight from the “independent” Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC).  This is another phony promise.  The current CBOC (for H and U) made a mockery of the word “independent” and essentially operated as a political arm of the Grossmont governing board.  The questionable handling of bond funds and poor CBOC oversight has been the subject of sharp criticism by the press, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and other respected individuals and entities.  Such conduct along with misleading statements to bond investors led to a Forbes magazine article that said the following about Grossmont:

“{Grossmont} was alleged to have diverted monies from a voter-approved measure and into non-authorized projects – a classic bait and switch scheme.   When we investors read that what the uses of money are for and the issuer does not adhere to that specified project, why aren’t the people involved in jail? … Once {Grossmont} had the money in their hot little hands they thought they could do whatever they wanted with it rather than what they promised the taxpayers…”

Grossmont’s failure to build the Alpine high school also caught the attention of the San Diego County Grand Jury.  In 2012 the Grand Jury issued a scathing report entitled “Fool Us Once, Fool Us Twice” in which Grossmont was taken to task for not building the school as required in Props H and U.  It made specific findings and recommendations to build the school which Grossmont completely ignored.  The Grand Jury, therefore, would not be the least surprised that Grossmont now wants to fool us a third time with Measure BB.

In the prior two bond measures, the good people of Alpine and Blossom Valley were suckered into thinking these bonds would be used to build our badly needed high school.  We believed the numerous personal promises by Grossmont Board members to Alpine and Blossom Valley residents that they would build our school.  We believed their lies and voted twice in support of these bonds.  Our local Indian Tribes, Viejas and Sycuan, were also fooled into contributing tens of thousands of dollars to help promote both bonds to the voters.

We will be fooled no more.  We now know Grossmont will never build us our school unless the courts or the state orders them to do so.  Do not give them more of your hard earned tax dollars to waste on everything except our local high school.  Therefore, we need every voter in Alpine and Blossom Valley to vote against Measure BB.  This is truly a BAD BOND coming from a school district that has mismanaged, misspent, and misappropriated hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.  Send the Grossmont Board and their political cronies a clear and resounding message.  VOTE NO ON BB – the BAD BOND.

Sal Casamassima,

Chair – Alpine High School Citizens Committee