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Setting the Record Straight

Latest Legal Action Threatens GUHSD Communities and Halts Planned Bond Projects

Superintendent Ralf Swenson
Ralf Swenson
Dear Faculty, Staff, Parents, and Taxpayers:

On January 22, 2015, in response to the ongoing Alpine lawsuit, a Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction directing our District to set aside nearly $42 million ($14 million immediately and $28 million set aside by January 2016) in bond funds that we planned to use on needed improvements to classrooms and infrastructure around our District. We believe that there was no legal basis for the Court’s finding and, in fact, the Court found there was no evidence supporting the plaintiff ’s claims that our District has been wasteful in using bond money.

The ruling is especially troubling in that it limits the authority of our locally-elected school board members to manage our voter-approved bond program and inserts the judicial branch in that role. We have filed an appeal of the court’s decision and will continue our efforts to return control of our bond program to our District.

As it stands, the decision impacts many of our District’s communities. Although three bond projects will proceed, planned work at many of our high schools will not commence, and the fate of those projects will rest on the outcome of our legal battle against this injunction. Not only will students continue to be housed in older facilities, there is
also a risk that our District will lose millions in State matching funds.

The negative impact of the Court’s preliminary injunction to schools throughout our District has prompted Helix Charter High School to join
Grossmont in appealing the Court’s decision. Together, we will defend the interests of students and taxpayers throughout all of East County
against the devastating impact of this lawsuit. We have filed a Writ of Supersedeas (a motion to appeal and stay the injunction) to suspend the preliminary injunction until our appeal can be heard by a higher court.

I want to remind our community that the GUHSD Governing Board has never wavered from the plan to build a 12th high school when the time is right. We have made significant investments by purchasing property in Alpine and acquiring the necessary permits for that land. Those steps
required an expenditure of over $23 million to date, and our Board authorized an additional $42 million to be designated in the bond program budget for construction. However, in light of the ongoing funding challenges facing California’s schools, as well as years of declining enrollment throughout East County, the time for that actual construction is several years in the future.

The voter-approved bond language authorized proceeding with actual construction of a new high school in Alpine only when enrollment in our
comprehensive schools and two charter schools reaches 23,245 students. The most recent enrollment figures from those schools leaves us more than 1,600 students short of this threshold. It is simply not time to build a new high school, and setting aside available bond funds as the court has ordered dramatically limits our ability to complete many necessary projects in our existing schools.

As this process unfolds, I will continue to keep you updated. In the interim, you may contact members of the Governing Board to express your concerns and provide feedback.

 Update Alpine Lawsuit: February 2015 

CBOC Validates Projects Were Authorized in Bond Language

The Plaintiffs in the Alpine Lawsuit — and a few of their more vocal supporters — have claimed that our District has authorized projects on our campuses not called for in Propositions H and U Bond Language. We invite you to take a look at the facts. The link on the right will provide you with information presented to our Citizens’ Bond
Oversight Committee in February 2014. That presentation served as the process for validation that all Bond Projects completed to date were called for in Bond Language and approved by the GUHSD Board of
Trustees. Each project is cross-referenced with the Bond Language that supported the project.