New High School Facilities Bond

Five years ago, voters from Fullerton, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Brea, and Whittier supported Bond Measure I that proposed $145 million dollars for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District to use for facilities upgrades to theaters, gymnasiums, pools, stadiums, and science classrooms.

The district has spent all but the last $20 million dollars of this bond and they have built a new theater at La Habra, new stadiums at Buena Park, La Habra, and Fullerton Union, new gymnasium at Sonora, modernized gymnasiums at Sunny Hills, Troy, and Buena Park, modernized theaters, and libraries and built two new aquatic facilities at Sunny Hills and Troy with additional pools funded for La Habra and Buena Park.

The board approved presenting another High School District bond to authorize $300 million additional dollars to be used to build an undetermined set of new buildings and modernization projects at their November 12 meeting. FJUHSD Superintendent, Dr. Scott Scambray, and Director of Facilities and New Construction, Mr. Todd Butcher stated that the District Facilities Master Plan requires an additional $500 million dollars to completely upgrade the district facilities.

In the past months, in response to repeated requests for a tangible updated project list to be presented to the Board by Trustee Marilyn Buchi, the principals presented a wish list including new locker rooms, band rooms, upgraded courtyards, paint and modernization of windows. None of the board members’ questions focused on project longevity (previous school boards were very concerned that the projects built with bond money would last 20 years or more) but instead on the ability to vote in bond money because the polling indicates a positive outcome.

A majority of the discussion to move forward with the bond took place during the October 22 meeting. The trustees did not hold any further public discussion on this bill, but the 4:1 vote to approve this additional bond to go to ballot may indicate that Trustee Buchi, with the sole no vote, still carries strong reservations about the planning behind this new bond measure.

The superintendent and the trustees will submit the new bond using the same ballot language and project list as the previous bond did five years ago, except this bond, if passed, will charge each property owner an additional $30 dollars per $100,000 dollars of assessed value of their home (The assessed value of a home is the amount used to calculate the yearly property taxes). Renters will have the additional assessed tax passed on by increased monthly rents. This $30 per $100,000 will be applied in addition to the current $19 per $100,000 assessed value for Bond measure I.

The supplemental ballot list of projects will not be updated, which Board President Joann Fawley is comfortable with. But Trustee Buchi felt disappointed in the draft of the resolution. She stated that voters will find it hard to believe that after spending millions of community dollars, the district’s needs had not changed.

Trustee Buchi said she is very proud of the constructed projects funded by Bond I, and she knows there are additional district facility needs, but she feels that asking for this additional bond feels rushed and not as well-planned as prior bonds have been.

Trustee Dr. Chester Jeng brought up the issue that Fullerton Elementary School District is also presenting a bond to voters. Dr. Scambray assured him that the voters support another bond now. Once assured that La Habra was not putting a bond measure on his district ballot, Dr. Jeng was satisfied and raised no further issues.

The District needs to finish projects in progress and will require new construction funds to build a new athletic complex due to the unexpected failure of the Fullerton High School gymnasium. Plummer Auditorium needs have also not been addressed through the current bond. These projects, however, are not specified in the new bond language.

The FJUHSD has an organizational meeting on December 10 at 6pm and the next regular meeting will be January 7 at 6pm.

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  1. Using public moneys to influence the outcome of an election is a felony – Education Code 7054 and Penal Code 421(a). Public moneys are used to print and distribute ballots and voter information guides.

    Bond counsel approved the sales pitch on the ballot statement that is illegal under AB-195 and other election law. The ballot statement violates all three sections of Elections Code 13119.

    This is a sales pitch designed to elicit a “yes” vote.

    “To upgrade, construct and equip high school classrooms, science labs, sites and career-training facilities serving Fullerton, Buena Park, and La Habra supporting college/career readiness in math, science, technology, arts, and skilled trades, improve campus safety/security, and upgrade roofs/plumbing/electrical, shall the Fullerton Joint Union High School District measure authorizing $310,000,000 in bonds at legal rates be adopted, levying 3 cents/$100 assessed value (averaging $20,000,000 annually) while bonds are outstanding, with citizen oversight and all money staying local?”

    No mention of all the sports facilities that are on the vague lists and outreach facilities. Very deceptive.

    Education Code 15122 requires the “maximum interest rate,” which is 12%, on the ballot statement. “at legal rates” is clever lawyers at work to prejudice a vote for the measure.

    Education Code 15272 requires the district to disclose that the board appoints the oversight committee (it’s not independent) among other things.

    Elections Code 13119(b) requires the “duration of the tax,” which is 25 to 40 years, on the ballot statement. “while bonds are outstanding” — once again, clever lawyers at work. The tax rate statement says the tax will last for 28 years.

    That’s how the district cheats to get voters to pass a measure.

    There’s not a single “specific” school facilities project in the measure, violating Proposition 39 and making the oversight committee and the audits completely superfluous. The measure purports to allow the district to spend the money on anything it wants, after it is passed.

    The Constitution prohibits bond proceeds to pay, among other things, “teacher or administrator salaries.” Think again. Both the resolution (“except for personnel to manage the bond projects”) and buried in measure changes that language and states “Proceeds of the bonds may be used to pay or reimburse the District for the cost of District staff when performing work on or necessary and incidental to the bond projects, but not for other administrator or teacher salaries.” Clever lawyers include language that purports to allow district to reimburse itself for, yes, District administrator salaries. Superintendent and board are depending on the stupidity of the voters to be fooled by the sales pitch. Isn’t the school district an expert at producing stupid voters?

    Both the Constitution and Education Code 15100 prohibit using bond proceeds for repairs. Repairs are operating expenses. The actual measure is loaded with repairs.

    Then, of course, there is an oversight committee that the governing board stacks with cheerleaders. The oversight committee is totally in the thrall of the board. Oversight is a fraud on the voters.

    Funny how wish lists suddenly became “urgent and critical facility needs.” District staff are masters of deception.

    Is the governing board knowingly and wilfully violating the law to win an election? #HonestBallots