By Allison Jarrell
The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees held another lengthy bond discussion Wednesday night that was largely focused on moving away from pursuing a bond model of six separate School Facilities Improvement Districts (SFIDs) covering different regions, and instead further examining a districtwide bond, or a large SFID that may carve out certain areas to be excluded from taxation.
Over the last several months, the board has been discussing placing an $889 million general obligation bond on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, which would be used to leverage state funds and pay for more than $800 million of deferred maintenance of district facilities.
After recently contemplating splitting the bond up into smaller regional bonds, a majority of trustees now seem to favor the initial idea of a districtwide bond or a large SFID with carved out areas, such as communities that consist primarily of older residents. Several trustees said after speaking with constituents, they felt a single bond was the clearer, more transparent choice versus confusing residents with six SFIDs. The board will discuss in depth which areas could potentially be excluded from a districtwide SFID at its July 13 meeting.
In addition, Trustee John Alpay brought up the separate idea of placing existing Community Facilities Districts (CFDs) on the November ballot in order to end the collection of “pay as you go” or “pay go” funds— surplus funds the district collects beyond what’s needed to repay interest and principal on its bond debt. Staff was unsure if the current timeline would allow for CFDs to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, so a later special election may be needed.
The deadline for placing a bond measure on the November ballot is Aug. 12, so the last opportunity for the board to vote on the measure would be its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 10. Two-thirds of the board—five trustees—must approve the measure for it to be placed on the ballot.
The board will continue discussing bond options at its regularly scheduled meetings on July 13 and 20. Superintendent Kirsten Vital said staff will bring back ideas based on trustee feedback, as well as the process for vetting projects to be funded, bond language, analysis of assessed valuation juxtaposed with regional needs, the cost of placing a bond measure on the November ballot, and the additional CFD information, including how much an election or special election would cost to put all eight CFDs on the ballot for voting to eventually stop the pay go.
FIND OUT MORE: To see a complete list of proposed district projects that could be funded by a bond, visit www.capousd.ca.schoolloop.com and click “Draft – Proposed Projects by School Site” at the very bottom right of the screen.