Letter: LBUSD, why the rush to approve unpopular facilities master plan?

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There was a LBUSD board meeting on Nov. 16 that received no media coverage; it should have. Ostensibly, the meeting was to provide an update to the Facilities Master Plan (FMP), including recommended sequencing of projects. The board will meet again on Dec. 14 and approve the roughly $100 million master plan.

The district boasts about the reduction from the original (ill-conceived) FMP but it’s still $100 million for the smallest district in OC with declining enrollment.  The $100 million includes $50 million at the high school campus, $21 million at El Morrow, $14 for new district staff offices, and $15 million for upgrades at ToW and Thurston.

The high school spending includes replacing the current 25-meter shared high school/community pool with a 50-meter Olympic competition pool. The existing wading/kiddie pool is eliminated and the bathhouse is being demolished and rebuilt. Cost for the pool complex is approximately $16 million. There are viable options that cost millions less, fully address student/resident needs, and are far less disruptive.

The district is planning a general obligation bond of $80-$100 million that would likely come for a public vote in 2026. Interestingly, the timing in the plan showed spending for the pool starting in 2024 and ending in 2026….before the bond is presented to voters. Apparently, the pool will be funded from “available funds” and is being fast-tracked before the bond vote. Additionally, the city currently funds 70% of the pool costs and has not finalized its position on community pool options.

So, what’s the rush on a project that has considerable resident opposition? Approving the project now avoids the transparency of a bond issue and attempts to force the city to participate in funding. The better approach is to delay approval of the pool and work cooperatively with the city on a solution that fully addresses the needs of residents and school athletes in an economical manner. This is a resident tax-funded project and should have resident visibility and support. It does not.

Gary Kasik, Laguna Beach

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2 COMMENTS

  1. How does any of this $100 million dollar spending help the 10% decline in academic achievement that LBUSD has experienced since before COVID (3x Greater than surrounding school districts)?
    LBUSD has loss over 500 students since before COVID yet the budget has ballooned to $80 million tax dollars.

    Water Polo Pools and District Offices. REALLY?

    Parents have been pulling their children out of the LBUSD in numbers NEVER seen before; still the District maintains the exodus has nothing to do with NOT keeping the schools open when surrounding schools with much less resources were able to do so; or the decline in academics; or the reduction of achievement classes; or the non-stop Equity, Diversity, Equality and Emotional-Well Being our children are subjected to.

    This is a money grab by a wealthy school district in a State that is looking at long-term deficits in revenue.

    Politics start at the local level and their is nothing more political than the California Teachers Union.
    They like that MONEY!
    $80 million dollars for a RICH declining School District and what are the parents & students getting for all this money?
    We need to refocus on Academics, Curriculum, College readiness, and letting our children learn in peace; Not, pet-peeve projects design to divert attention away from the POOR job LBUSD is doing educating our students.
    LBUSD has the most beautiful campuses on the planet with an abundance of resources.
    We need to expect more as Laguna Beach citizens and make people accountable.

  2. I agree with both of you there is something really fishy here, what is the hurry? what is the rush with the spending now, people are trying to adjust and feel vulnerable just with what is going on in our country. This is the time the School District strikes!! I think a lot of people are awakening to the joke the schools have become, and then off to college for brain washing..we have lower enrollment, our educational levels have dropped big time and we have a sewage issue that is destroying our sea life and oceans, because the CC wasn’t want to spend the money on that, really?..new offices, BIGGER pool..like for what? tell me please on a logical basis how any of this makes sense..what about the people sleeping in streets, taking on millions of invaders into our country and paying for all that…when does this stop!!! I hope
    common sense prevails. Watch how you vote…

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