In 2005, CUSD (Coronado Unified School District) approved $11 million “non-voter approved” loan, putting up the Middle School as collateral. this was done primarily to build an $8.6 million aquatics facility that supposedly would never cost the District a dime to operate and maintain.
When asked to pay $45,000 for lifeguards, then (2009) CUSD Supt. Jeff Felix stated, “I have no money except to pay for reading, writing and arithmetic.” The City denied a request for a $75,000 grant. In August 2009, Felix told the Union Tribune, “It is a dire necessity in our District that our Board does not take on any additional expenses.” Yet, since 2009, CUSD has spent millions and millions and millions just for the pool. Debt service on the loan runs until 2035, at approximately $660,000 a year.
After years of deficit spending, in 2014, CUSD put on the ballot bond measure Proposition E asking for $29 million. It was soundly defeated with voters leaving the message, “live within your means.”
In April 2019, 11 years since the pool opened, Asst. Supt. Salamanca presented to the Board a BBMAC facilities (pool) maintenance and equipment replacement plan. The report added $695,000 (over 14 years) of unfunded liability to the District. Board President L. Pontes pointed out that in 10 years a bill in excess of $1 million will present when field turf and pool plaster will require replacement. He stated, “Somebody, somewhere, some place, will have that problem … I would consider myself lucky to be alive and fog a mirror!” Trustee Russell asked if the District had some sort of maintenance programming that allowed funding throughout time and said, “The Board needs to dust off a Master Facilities Plan approved 2014 and not revisited.” Another Trustee stated, “that was before I was born.” Supt. K. Muelller half-heartedly agreed. L.Pontes’ final comment to Asst. Supt. Salamanca was, “I am hopeful your report will be useful to you in the future.” Is it really possible Pontes does not know who works for who? Talk about passing the buck!
Last month, CUSD approved another non-voter approved loan, this time for $12 million and put up Village Elementary as collateral. That debt service is reported to be $780,000/year for 20 years. CUSD plans to lease two buildings to cover the debt. Do they have signed contracts at that amount for that length of time? Doubt it. I feel that by refusing to make cuts, verbalizing incompetence in fiscal planning and attempting to balance a budget by incurring more debt is grossly irresponsible. CUSD is a public entity, their debt is public debt. I hope a majority of taxpayers will demand CUSD stop borrowing and spending our dollars without a vote. Now is not the time to take the easy way out.