The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Op-Ed: Do We Really Need Another School Bond?

Do Rancho Santa Fe homeowners want another school bond? It's unreasonable at this point, since our $34 million school (built for 850 students) is only seven years old. Our student population is shrinking, with only 643 students in attendance this year.

During the original bond-planning process, the gym and classroom building (300) were thought to be in excellent shape and needed only fire-alarm retrofits. The new construction was slated for the administration building, elementary-school classrooms and middle-school classrooms with state-of-the-art science buildings. The original multipurpose building was modified to become our now Performing Arts Center.

In 2014, just four years after the new build, the school board surveyed the community, proposing to tear down the existing gym and build a much larger facility. They put this idea on hold due to little community support. However, just one year later school board members Tyler Seltzer and Todd Frank voted on a new master plan proclaiming interest in a new larger gym, more parking, more classrooms and specialty-program space for after-school programs (robotics), and additional playing fields through land acquisitions from neighbors on El Fuego and Mimosa. The only problem is that Messrs. Seltzer and Frank had ZERO input on this master plan. No parents, students, community members or grade-level teachers were consulted with any organized effort. How is this a priority when the school readily admits there is no overall strategic plan for school programs (existing programs are just now starting to be assessed on effectiveness)?

It seems obvious that an evaluation of the current state of the school, its programs, and its goals for academic excellence should be done first! Then, an assessment of the facilities would logically follow. (See Board member Sarah Neal's comments in the Review 10/12/17).

Do we want to be the No. 1 elementary school in San Diego County? Do we want to be a California Distinguished School? We currently spend more dollars per student than any other school in the County, but our K-5 school is ranked 29th against other County schools. No more facilities or master planning before we focus on the priorities of creating a strategic educational plan for success to carry our students in the highest academic achievement ranking in the County or the state. Is that unreasonable?