Oceanside plans to sell schools to reduce deficit


“In the last seven years, they have suppressed a teacher [from Libby’s staff] every year.”

The march to close and then sell Oceanside elementary schools has been compared to the game of musical chairs. Parents carrying “Save Our Schools” signs hope their on-site protests will prevent their neighborhood school from being the next school sold to the highest bidder.

“Libby and Del Rio are 90 percent brown schools. “

The Oceanside Unified School District Board of Directors will vote Nov. 2 to approve one of the two plans. Each includes putting at least one school in what the district calls “asset management,” meaning that it would no longer serve as a traditional classroom site and could be sold to the highest bidder, perhaps a developer. The sale would have an impact on other schools which would be forced to absorb the displaced students.

A plan at Ditmar Elementary near Coast Highway to exit the classroom gate. His students would be transferred to Del Rio Elementary School on the other side of town. Built in 1946, Ditmar is one of the three oldest elementary schools in Oceanside along with Mission and South Oceanside Elementary. Ditmar ceased to be used as a traditional primary school in 2008 and is now called Surfside Educational Academy and accommodates some 600 Continuing and “Independent Study” students. The Del Rio Elementary students would then be invited to join the existing Libby Elementary students as part of this plan.

“When I tell other parents that they are considering shutting down Reynolds, they look at me like I have five faces.”

The other plan calls for Reynolds Elementary School in Northeast Oceanside to be put on hold and its students split between Del Rio and Libby Elementary School.

“We’re a low-income neighborhood,” says Julia Sanchez, who has children who attend Del Rio Elementary School. “The two proposals are void. At the end of the day, somebody loses out anyway.

Sanchez says she and her kids love their teachers at Del Rio Elementary School. “All the teachers here are awesome. But here we are, targeted, sent back to another campus. She says elementary schools in the wealthier neighborhoods of Oceanside are not facing such disruptions or relocations. “No one is talking about doing anything at Ivey Ranch. These schools are never affected. Palmquist and South Oceanside Elementary are believed to be two other schools with upscale neighborhood adjacency.

Ditmar ceased to be used as a traditional elementary school in 2008 and is now called Surfside Educational Academy.

The Oceanside Unified School District Board of Directors is in liquidation. At its July meeting, the five-member board of directors announced plans to proceed with the sale of the 14-acre Pacifica Elementary property for $ 15.8 million to Meritage Homes of Scottsdale, Ariz., A builder. of prolific homes that is currently marketing its new residential lots across the West. New Meritage homes are priced between $ 500,000 and $ 800,000.

Students at Garrison Elementary School learned in 2019 that they needed to abandon their classrooms near El Camino Real and Oceanside Boulevard and start studying with students at San Luis Rey Elementary School because the chasms made Garrison unusable. The district has just announced that it will begin selling Garrison’s 11 acres to the highest bidder in November.

This year, the Oceanside School District sold its complementary school facility at Ocean Shores near Oceanside Boulevard and El Camino Real to the Town of Oceanside who will renovate it and use it as a homeless facility and as a new home for its code enforcement department. Students from the complementary school transferred to Surfside Academy at Ditmar Elementary School.

That leaves 16 elementary schools still operating in the Oceanside Unified School District. At its meeting on November 7, the school board will announce which primary school will be the next to be placed in asset management.

Oceanside’s population has increased by 5% since 2010, from 167,000 to 175,000. But officials from the Oceanside Unified School District say their student numbers are declining and that is why it is acceptable to withdraw. owned by its primary school.

But school parent Todd Maddison, who regularly attends school board meetings and takes a close look at the district’s budget, wonders if this recent liquidation announcement is some sort of clearance sale to help balance the needed books. by spending and deficits.

Maddison says that in October, the district revealed that due to new agreements with its task forces, the district will add $ 9.5 million to its deficit this year and $ 6-7 million to its deficit each year. due to a salary of 3.75%. to augment. He says this follows a previous 3 percent pay hike just two years ago.

“Transparent California [a database that tracks pay for government employees and elected officials] stated that the median total compensation for teachers in Oceanside is $ 124,688, ”Maddison said. “This includes the benefits. That’s about $ 30,000 more than San Diego County employees with comparable training. “

A September 15 letter from the San Diego County Office of Education to Oceanside School Superintendent Julie Vitale said the district would not be able to meet its financial commitments after the 2021 school year- 2022 and is expected to be in the red by over $ 8. million in 2022-2023. The county says the district will have $ 29 million in the hole in 2023-2024. The letter reminded Oceanside Unified that the county’s superintendent of schools had the power to require the district to make cuts to stay solvent.

“And what brings me to this is that the Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, Todd McAteer, who just negotiated the new increase, needs to be included in this new increase,” says Maddison. “This increase that he negotiated, he manages to keep himself… The board of directors has approved all the additional bonus increases. The vote was 5-0 on increases for certified and classified personnel, and 4-1 on “me too” increases for administration. “

Michael Mitchell has two students at Reynolds Elementary School. He maintains the district was less than open about its plans to put Ditmar or Reynolds in “asset management.” “They did this at their September meeting which they held at a special time, 4 p.m., when they knew no one would be there.” Unlike recent meetings, this one was not available on Zoom. Or KOCT public access station.

Viviana Gonzales has two children at Reynolds Elementary School, one of two schools that can be put on hold. “Reynolds covers a vast territory. It is true that the school is not in great condition, but that extra bond money should be invested in its renovation … I hope more parents will come out and hold signs and email the council . It’s not fair that they are doing everything behind closed doors.

“We didn’t even know they were considering shutting down Reynolds,” says parent Julie Hammer. “It was never part of the discussion. They were always talking about rebuilding it or fixing it. When I tell other parents that they are considering shutting down Reynolds, they look at me like I have five faces. We were all shocked. Hammer says Reynolds also serves the neighborhood with the necessary green space. “There is no park within walking distance. We had this horrible metal playground and they replaced it with top notch, top notch playground equipment.

Libby Elementary will be increasingly crowded with consolidation with either plan. If Ditmar leaves and Reynolds stays, the district has said Reynolds needs to spend millions to improve Reynolds. “Libby and Del Rio are 90 percent brown schools,” says Nataly Sanchez, president of the Libby Elementary Parent Teacher Organization. “In the last seven years, they have suppressed a teacher [from Libby’s staff] every year.”

Sanchez says these cuts have led to a high student-teacher ratio and Libby is to have combined classes where two classes are taught in the same classroom. “They keep cutting back on teachers, but they have all these associate superintendents making $ 150,000 and $ 200,000 a year, and then they keep getting raises. Why does the district need three people to work full time in public relations? “

“The school board’s vote on consolidation options has been rescheduled for Tuesday, November 2 at 6 p.m.,” said district communications director Donald Bendz. He says the board meeting scheduled for Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. is where the board will get parent feedback on the plans. This meeting is virtual only.

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