New Middle School and Scripps Ranch Funds
You may be aware of a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article that mentioned that the San Diego Unified School District expects about $5 million from Scripps Ranch for our new middle school. We wanted to give the community some background and clarify the information.
First off, I want to state that the community of Scripps Ranch does not have a $5 million bank account. I wish we did, but we don’t. What the community has is several special assessment funds that are defined for specific projects. Special assessment funds are public funds collected and controlled by the city of San Diego that are used to provide public facilities and benefits to those who live in the special assessment district.
It should also be noted that there are two equal public agencies involved here–the city of San Diego (the city) and the San Diego Unified School District (the district). Each has a responsibility to the residents to provide infrastructure. The city is responsible for general public infrastructure–parks, libraries, roads, water, sewer, and such. The district is responsible for schools.
At the time of the initial planning of the new middle school, the city controlled five Scripps Ranch specific special funds of public money–three were capitalization funds and two were operational funds.
In the Scripps-Miramar planning area, basically the area south of the lake, there were three funds:
- Scripps Ranch Special Park Fund (SPF)–This fund was collected by fee from each building permit issued in the planning area and is the main source of funds to provide recreational facilities for the community. These funds must be used to provide recreational facilities to the residents within the assessment area.
- Scripps Ranch Facilities Benefit Assessment (FBA)–This fund was collected by fee from each development in the planning area and is the main source of funds to provide public facilities such as libraries, road improvements, and traffic lights. The funds must provide public facilities to benefit those who live in the assessment area.
- Scripps Ranch Maintenance Assessment District (SR MAD)–This is a fund collected through assessment fees on property taxes and is used to provide maintenance and improvements to public-owned land within the community, open space, and parks within the assessment area.
In the Miramar Ranch North planning area, there was only a MAD fund, as all the parks and city-provided public facilities were part of the development agreement and built as part of the project.
The fifth fund was the Village and Country Settlement fund paid by Kaufman and Broad, and the only restriction was that this fund must be used for the benefit of Scripps Ranch.
Distribution of any of these funds must be approved by the City Council and must meet the restrictions that each fund operates under.
As we all remember, the initial plan for Scripps Ranch schools was to use Proposition MM funds to construct a permanent elementary school at the Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School site. However, once Prop MM passed and initial planning was started on this project, the district and community recognized that our community faced two immediate school problems–we needed more middle school capacity, as well as elementary school capacity.
Once the school district realized this situation, they indicated a willingness to rethink how these two problems might be addressed, while still trying to stay within the financial bounds of the Prop MM plan–one new elementary school for Scripps Ranch. The concept proposed was to construct a new middle school and reuse the current middle school for our fourth elementary school.
Since middle schools are more expensive than elementary schools, the district was concerned about the adequacy of the Prop MM funding to accomplish this plan. Preliminary discussions were held with those in the community who understood what community funds might be available, and options were discussed as to how we might "leverage" all available assets to facilitate this conceptual plan.
Both the community and district realized that this shift in school plans for Scripps Ranch was a major undertaking that would take cooperation and flexibility from all involved to accomplish. But, the end result, sufficient middle school and elementary school space for all our children, was a significant improvement for our community.
At the time of these preliminary meetings, the initial site discussed was the Scripps Ranch Business Park. Placing a middle school at this site seemed to work with respect to "leveraging" community funds. If the middle school were constructed with improved athletic facilities, then these facilities would benefit the middle school, the high school after- school athletic programs, and community recreational needs.
Thus, SPF funds could be used to provide benefit to both the district and the city. Also, with the increased road traffic in this location, use of the FBA funds for road improvements on Scripps Ranch Boulevard represented a possible benefit to both the city and the district.
In these initial discussions, various funding sources were looked at for their potential to assist in this effort. Obviously, during this process, the various city-controlled community-based funds were discussed, as were the Prop MM funds. However, since the site was not determined nor the school design known, it was not possible to take any actions towards requesting of the community or the city to plan for, set aside, or dedicate any funds towards this school plan.
There is a process we follow in Scripps Ranch–any recommendations of expenditures from these funds are first noticed and discussed in the appropriate community groups and forums, and then the groups vote on the recommendations. The recommendations are then forwarded to our council office for action.
Over the last several years, the initial school plan has gone through major revisions, especially with respect to where the middle school will be located. During this process, any discussions or actions between the community, the city, and the district with respect to cost sharing were not appropriate since there was not a definable plan.
Unfortunately, the initial discussions with respect to community support of the project costs seemed to have been built into the school district’s financing plan without any formal commitment or discussions with the city or the community. This was done even though all parties knew that public funds require extensive public review and approval before any commitment can be made. The process for city-based funds must be approved at the City Council; the process for district-based funds must be approved at the Board of Education.
Where do we stand today? The bulk of the Village and Country Settlement fund was expended to purchase the Shea 4-acre parcel–west of the new Vons–that we hope to put a YMCA or other community-based recreational asset on.
The SPF does have funds, however, these funds must be used for recreational assets for the community. They cannot be used to build a school. Can they be used to help construct middle school play fields? Possibly, as long as those fields meet some level of recreational usability, and a Joint Usage Agreement is worked out with the school district.
Now that we have a more definitive school plan, the use of SPF funds may be assessed, understanding that these funds do have various other project requests against them. So, use of these funds must be determined based upon maximum gain for community recreation.
The FBA funds can only be used for road or other public improvements on city-owned property; these funds cannot be used to construct a school.
Of the two MAD funds, one or both might be used to provide some maintenance funds for publicly used assets such as play fields, but this would have to be reviewed by both MADs, and, if appropriate, this would have to be part of the Joint Usage Agreement.
The community is committed to doing whatever we can to support the district’s plans and will continue to work with the city and the district on this issue. Now that we have a definable plan, we can work with the district and city to see what expenditure of "our" public funding on the school can be done within the restrictions of these funds.
If there is a way, I am sure that this community will make the appropriate recommendation to our City Council and we will work with the city to insure that this occurs. The process will be open to all to voice their concerns, and any recommendations that go forward will do so after the various oversight groups involved have met, discussed, and voted on the issues.
Councilmember Gives Status on State Budget Cuts
It has become common knowledge that the city is facing huge budget cuts from Sacramento. Right now, we are still in a situation of shifting priorities, and the dust has not settled yet.
The governor initially wanted to take $80 million that would normally come to San Diego in Vehicle Licensing Fees. Losing these fees would drastically reduce city funds used for public safety, parks, and other basic city services. Even though the Assembly has discussed raising those fees to be able to give funds to cities, Governor Davis has said he would veto this legislation. We need to make adjustments to continue funding public safety and other needs, but raising different kinds of fees to make up for shortfalls should not be the answer.
Another hit that San Diego may take is a $2 million reduction in funding for after-school programs and half a million dollars for libraries. Other services that may be impacted are street and sidewalk repairs. The city lost $2 million in funding for these projects, but it is not certain which street repairs will be delayed. The scope of work is certain to change, but I will do everything possible to keep Scripps Ranch repairs on schedule.
The most significant cut we may face is the loss of tens of millions of dollars earmarked for relief of traffic congestion. Davis may drain the entire account of $100 million in the state’s Traffic Congestion Relief Plan budget. What that would mean to San Diego is that part of the I-15 Improvements Project would be held up.
Interstate 15 will still see improvements from Ted Williams and across the Lake Hodges bridge. Auxiliary lanes are being added on the outside, and the bridge will get widened to relieve traffic at the region’s worst congestion point. Delays will be seen for the Managed Lanes section and High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in the middle of the freeway. Construction of transit centers up and down the I-15 may also be delayed for several months to a year.
I am constantly working with CalTrans, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB), and Assembly members to keep that money in place. Representatives of each agency regularly meet with me in my office and also report to the Freeway Congestion Strike Team committee, which monitors all these projects. State Route 56 could lose $14 million in funding, but because the road is being built now, money is being reallocated to keep it on track for a mid-2004 opening.
So, I am working hard to solve the budget cuts we face–but I think we need a little more time for issues to be resolved. Tough choices will have to be made, but we must find a way to continue providing police and fire protection and basic services with less money. I will keep you informed through the Newsletter and on the SRCA website.
Councilmember Brian Maienschein
Symphony in the Park Needs Your Support
It’s that time of year again. The deadline to make your donation toward this year’s Symphony in the Park concert series is Tuesday, Apr. 1. Where else can you get so much entertainment for such a small donation?
What fun you will have between May and December joining your friends and neighbors in Hoyt Park! Surely, the concert series is worth supporting.
This year we will bring you six concerts. We are still negotiating with the bands, but we can tell you the dates. Mark these Sundays on your calendar:
- May 18;
- June 8;
- July 13;
- Aug. 17;
- Sept. 7; and,
- Nov. 30.
You don’t have to go far for the concerts–just down the road to Hoyt Park, northwest of the Aviary Drive and Scripps Ranch Boulevard intersection.
This is a longstanding tradition in Scripps Ranch, and for good reason. It’s fun. It’s a community event in a great community. It’s made possible by volunteers in our community. And, it’s supported financially by our community–that means you!
Look for the donation envelope in the Newsletter. Fill in the blanks, insert your check, and get it in the mail before Tuesday, Apr. 1. We are counting on you, and we want to thank you for your support.
Another great fun-filled event was enjoyed by over 150 HodgePodge participants. The kids enjoyed making arts and crafts, including: happy 10th birthday quilt piece, "Be My Valentine" card, keepsake handprint and poem, pastel tin flower pot and fabric flowers, painted wooden birdhouse with nest and eggs, wooden springtime basket, and bunny decorative gift bag.
The HodgePodge chairs would like to thank the following volunteers whose help was "priceless": Jan Rasmussen, Barbara Prieto, Cindy Marshall, Joan Woods-Petties, Erica Berick, Melinda Greibel, Dee Dee McLees, Julie Streeker-Barnes, Carol Banka, Sandra Hoyt, Anne Slavicek, Joan Reese, Sue Brunkow, Gary Dismukes, Meriah Earle, Jeanette Sandoval, Leslie Christoffersen, Callie Coffin, Nancy Hitchcox, Cheran Ippolito, Sandy Price, Jacqueline Yang, Robert Reese, Barbara Prieto, Jack Wood, and Ryan Mazelli.
Proceeds from the $10 admission, and generous cash and in-kind donations from the following sponsors, helped raise funds for books for the library.
2003 Stellar Donations
- Arlene Rand; and,
- Karli and Kasey Altman.
- Karen Quarles, Coldwell Banker;
- Fred Christensen, RE/Max United;
- Edwin Paul Simpson III, CPA;
- Chin’s Szechwan Restaurant; and,
- Mission Valley Pools and Spas, Inc.
- Sandy Rodighiero, RE/Max United;
- Gladys Maasjo;
- Rick and Lynn Parke, Coldwell Banker;
- Cabrillo Credit Union;
- Lenore Knutzen, Coldwell Banker;
- Ruth Nelson, M.D.;
- Neil Berkowitz, M.D.;
- Michael J. Mahaffey, D.D.S.; and,
- Diamond Boutique.
- Gigi Cramer;
- Brian, August European Motors, Inc.;
- Pazzo’s Pizza;
- Irene Thiel, Coldwell Banker;
- My Friends and I Children’s Center;
- Todd Durkin, Fitness Quest 10;
- Children’s World Learning Center; and,
- Linda Carney, First Advantage Financial.
Library Lover’s Donation
- Mazelli Graphics;
- Jack and Carol Wood;
- Vons, Scripps Ranch Boulevard;
- Vons, Scripps Ranch Marketplace;
- Postal Annex Plus, Scripps Ranch; and,
- Robert and Camille Smith.
Thank you, sponsors and volunteers.
July 4th Fireworks Fundraiser
Mark your calendars! All Scripps Ranch residents are invited to have fun and raise funds for this year’s 4th of July fireworks. The "Fabulous Fifties" Casino Night and Sock Hop will be on Saturday, Mar. 22, from 6:30 pm to 10 pm at the Good Shepherd parish hall at the corner of Camino Ruiz and Gold Coast in Mira Mesa.
This year’s 4th of July Casino Night fireworks fundraiser will not only include "just for fun" casino games, but it will also feature a deejay and dancing to classic rock and roll tunes.
Your admission donation of $15 includes refreshments and an opportunity to win some fabulous door prizes. Due to the availability of alcoholic beverages, this event is restricted to ages 21 and up only.
Each year the 4th of July fireworks are set off from the Mira Mesa High School fields and enjoyed by many who gather at viewpoints throughout Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch. Last year’s fireworks display cost $12,000, an amount raised by the Mira Mesa Community 4th of July Committee and its sister nonprofit group, Scripps Mesa Fireworks, Inc., completely through donations and fundraisers such as this.
For more details, call Debbie Vincent at 566-6749, Marvin Miles at 494-3024, or email [[email protected]].
New Yoga Program
Sign up now for a new yoga program at the Scripps Ranch Recreation Center. Learn structure and flow to experience a great yoga workout!
The seven-session program begins on Wednesday, Apr. 9, with classes running from 6:15 to 7:45 pm. The class fee is $105. Call the Scripps Ranch Recreation Center at 538-8085 to register.