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By Allison Jarrell and Kristina Pritchett

After Capistrano Unified School District’s Measure M failed to pass on Nov. 8, district officials have said they intend to remain focused on improving school facilities and will increase outreach to city officials regarding the district’s facility needs.

The CUSD Board of Trustees placed the $889 million general obligation on the ballot in an effort to leverage state funds for more than $800 million in deferred facilities maintenance.

Measure M failed with 72,915 votes (45.5 percent). The bond needed 55 percent of the vote to pass.

In a post-election press release, board president Amy Hanacek wrote that with more than “4 million square feet of building space and inadequate funding,” the district still faces facility challenges such as “leaky roofs, HVAC, plumbing and electrical issues, security and fire safety, insufficient classroom and bathroom spaces for overcrowded schools, classroom technology upgrades, access for special needs students” and more.

At the board’s Nov. 16 meeting, Hanacek said she hoped to improve communication with city officials so they understand that the children in their communities “need more from them than a photo opportunity or a handshake at graduation.”

In Dana Point, school principals say they will continue to work with the district.

Jason Allemann, Dana Hills High School principal, said the school will continue with its fundraisers and encourage the community to figure out how to best support the students.

“I remain hopeful some of the items will be addressed for the general wellbeing and safety of the students,” Allemann said. “The school district will continue working with on-site administrators to address those needs.”

Some of the work around the high school, which was projected to cost $72.8 million, included a new performing arts center, remodeling the library media center, modernizing the swimming pool and more.

At Palisades Elementary School, Principal Curt Visca said the school was in need of a permanent HVAC system in each classroom so they could be adjusted individually.

The projected cost for the 52-year-old school was $14.8 million.

At R.H. Dana Elementary School, where they began focusing on a science and technology curriculum, Principal Christina Portillo said they would have liked to see some modernization. The total projected cost for the school was $14 million.

Previously, she said they will continue their efforts to the transform the school into a science and technology academy, and will need to reassess and determine their priorities and resources.

In addition to continuing those conversations, the district has created two new opportunities for community oversight—the Community Facilities District Citizen’s Oversight and Advisory Commission, and the School Facilities and Finance Administrative Advisory Committee. To learn more about the new committees, visit

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