Grossmont Union High School District
GUHSD SUPERINTENDENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON UNIFICATION; ALPINE EDUCATION LEADER RESPONDS WITH REBUTTAL
By Miriam Raftery
Photo: GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson
September 18, 2014 (Alpine)—The Grossmont Union High School District Board (GUHSD) has passed a resolution opposing the proposed Alpine unification initiative. Now, Superintendent Ralf Swenson has issued a statement to media voicing disappointment that a County committee has approved the unification measure and sent it on to the State Board of Education to take action. He wants to see all voters in the district have a say on unification, not just voters in Alpine.
In his letter, Swenson claims a unified Alpine district won’t be able to afford to build and operate a high school offering programs comparable to those in the Grossmont district but insists that the GUHSD can’t afford to build the school, either. Moreover, he claims that the GUHSD remains 2,400 students below the “trigger” that the district has set for enrollment and that further declines are projected, making the likelihood that the district would ever build the promised 12th high school for Alpine appear to be virtually zero.
His letter has sparked a heated response, including a rebuttal from education leader Bill Weaver debunking dubious claims made by the Superintendent. Weaver has previously co-chaired education and business commitees for both the East County and Mountain Empire Chambers of Commerce.
GROSSMONT LEARNS A LESSON: COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION VOTES TO SUPPORT UNIFICATION OF ALPINE DISTRICT
View a video of the complete San Diego County Board of Education meeting on the unification plan: http://stream.sdcoe.net/wc/boardmeeting081314/
By Miriam Raftery and Bill Weaver
August 17, 2014 (Alpine)--The County Board of Education provided a learning experience Wednesday to the Grossmont Union High School District: If you ignore the will of voters and spend off bond money slated for a new Alpine high school on other projects, there are consequences.
Grossmont CBOC Member Nick Marinovich Resigns After Pressure From Asking Tough Questions
By Sharon Penny
July 13, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--The Grossmont Union High School District’s (GUHSD) Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) serves on behalf of San Diego County taxpayers to “independently review the planning and execution of the Proposition H and Proposition U bond programs to validate to the public and the Governing Board that bond funds are spent within the intent of the bond measure.” East County Magazine has raised questions over problems with the CBOC’s watchdog role in a radio interview a few months ago.
Since his appointment to CBOC in June 2013, Nick Marinovich has a history of questioning the GUHSD Board about what many view as its inadequate responses for plans for an Alpine High School (funded by Proposition U) and for not properly addressing the Grand Jury’s report criticizing the Boardm as ECM has reported.
Effective June 19, Marinovich “resigned” from the CBOC. GUHSD Board member Priscilla Schreiber has told East County Magazine that she believes Marinovich was ”indirectly forced” to resign due to his probing questions and failure of the board to respond to his follow-up efforts.
April 30, 2014 (El Cajon) – A petition has been filed with the County Board of Education that would allow Alpine families to shift from the Grossmont Union High School District into an expanded, or unified, Alpine Union School District that would serve grades K-12.
April 19, 2014 (Alpine) – A public hearing on proposed unification of the Alpine Union School District will be held in Alpine on April 29 at 6 p.m. in the Alpine Elementary School auditorium. The hearing will be conducted by the San Diego County Board of Education.
By Nicolee Hill
April 1, 2014
April 15, 2014 (La Mesa)-- Master Goldsmith and Jewelry Designer, Terry Whyte of Golden Artistry Jewelry Design is hosting this annual competition to be held in conjunction with Golden Artistry’s 30th anniversary. The event will be held on May 2, 2014 from 5:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. at the La Mesa Woman's Club, 5220 Wilson, La Mesa , CA 91942. Numerous local vendors and restaurants will be donating gifts and services to be raffled off. In addition, Terry Whyte will auction off one of his original pieces of jewelry and the Grand Prize winning design. All proceeds will go to the Golden Artistry Foundation which will disperse funds to local schools’ jewelry programs and to the internships at Golden Artistry. Members of the community are encouraged to participate in this event.
By Nadin Abbott
April 10, 2014 (El Cajon) --Think of it as a contested divorce.
With a vote of four to one, the Grossmont Unified High School District (GUHSD) board made its intent clear. The majority does not wish to allow Alpine parents and students to leave the GUHSD and join forces with the Alpine Union School District. Board Members Robert Shield, Richard Hoy, Jim Kelly and Jim Stieringer voted against unification, while Board Member Priscilla Schreiber cast the lone vote in favor.
Unification would allow the Alpine district to become a K-12 district, adding high school students so that the AUSD could build the long-promised high school that Grossmont has failed to build. Not even a scathing Grand Jury report has been able to prod GUHSD members into taking action. The Grand Jury admonished the board to either agree to build the high school by the end of last year, or cooperate with unification efforts. Instead, the board has done neither.
Public Hearings to be held on April 29 and May 7
By Sharon Penny
On the evening of March 12, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) board members convened a committee meeting for transmittal of the petition to unify the Alpine Union School (AUS) District.
Alpine residents successfully submitted a petition meeting all requirements to convert the K-8 Alpine Union School District to a K-12 Alpine Unified School District, which would then include a future high school in Alpine (http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/15043).
GROSSMONT BOARD RESOLVES TO RESTRICT MEMBERS’ RIGHTS; LEAVES QUESTION OF ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL UNANSWERED
By Sharon Penny
February 15, 2014 (El Cajon)--At the February 13 Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) meeting, the Governing Board provided some recent positive outcomes in the district (see side story: Grossmont District Schools Shine Academically), but took a step back for democracy.
By a vote of 4-1, the Board adopted a resolution: “In Recognition of the Citizens’ Board Oversight Committee (CBOC) and Their Service to the Grossmont Union High School District.” It praises the District’s bond oversight committee-- but also aims to muzzle school board members from giving testimony to the oversight comittee.
By Sharon Penny
February 17, 2014 (El Cajon)--Ralf Swenson, Superintendent of the Grossmont Unified High School District (GUHSD) proudly discussed recent academic success rates throughout the district’s 11 high schools at last week’s board meeting.
An East County Magazine/KNSJ Radio special report
By Miriam Raftery
February 13, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – In the wake of a Grand Jury probe into the Grossmont Union High School District’s(GUHSD) response to a Grand Jury probe, concerns have been raised over the level of oversight provided by the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. (CBOC) Listen to our radio interview on this explosive topic with Nick Marinovich, the San Diego Taxpayer Association’s representative on CBOC, Priscilla Schreiber, GUHSD board member, and Michael Waterman, an attorney/journalist who has been seeking answers to pointed questions from CBOC. (Note: The District and CBOC chair Nancy Herbst declined our interview requests.)
Hear our interview on KNSJ 89.1 FM here, which originally aired February 12, 2014: http://www.kiwi6.com/file/6rd0fni995
GUHSD RESOLUTION TO MUZZLE MEMBERS FROM ADDRESSING OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE IS “NOT ENFORCEABLE,” LEGAL EXPERT SAYS
District seeks to muzzle whisteblower Priscilla Schreiber (photo, left)
By Miriam Raftery
February 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Last week, Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) trustee Priscilla Schreiber testified before the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) to urge examination of a Grand Jury report and other evidence, as ECM reported. In response, the District’s board has proposed a resolution to prohibit its trustees from speaking to the Oversight Committee unless specifically invited to do so by the chair or a majority of committee members. The items is on the agenda on February 13.
ECM asked general counsel Terry Francke at Californians Aware (a nonprofit that works to protect open government), if this resolution was legal or not. “It's legally unenforceable," he responded via e-mail. "School trustees have the same First Amendment, Brown Act and Public Records Act rights as anyone else to attend meetings of a bond oversight board and obtain any documents that pertain to or result from its work.”
ALPINE RESIDENTS SAY CITIZENS BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE HAS FAILED IN ITS WATCHDOG ROLE OVER GUHSD, IGNORING GRAND JURY FINDINGS REGARDING ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL
Resident submit signatures to unify AUSD, split off from Grossmont District
"How deaf can this CBOC be without being complicit and compliant with the Board Majority’s political bias towards Alpine, as cited by the Grand Jury?”—GUHSD trustee Priscilla Schreiber
By Miriam Raftery; Janis Mork also contributed to this story
February 1, 2014 (Alpine) – At a contentious meeting of the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) on January 30, Chris Loarie testified that the Alpine High School Citizens Committee (AHSCC) has submitted final signatures to the County Office of Education for unification of the Alpine Union School District (AUSD). Frustrated by the GUHSD board’s repeated refusal to build an Alpine high school despite two bond measures for that purpose, Alpine parents aim to bolt from the Grossmont District and expand the AUSD to include high school students and ultimately, build a high school.
Others, including an attorney and a district trustee, are leveling sharp criticism at the CBOC for turning a blind-eye to findings of a Grand Jury report on the District’s failure to fulfill its promises to Alpine voters, a report titled “Fool me once, fool me twice.” Critics contend that the CBOC has ignored facts and further, that the Chair has exhibited bias and presented skewed information for oversight committee members.
Projects Throughout East County Funded by Proposition H, Proposition U School Bonds
January 15, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) announced today that significant construction progress continues to be made at campuses throughout the District as part of the Proposition H and U school bond programs.
Youth focus group shows growing concern
January 5, 2014 (Spring Valley)– “After the assembly we had last week, I went to the bathroom. It was really smoky. I don’t think it was weed. It was hookah or something. I saw it and smelled it and just got out.”
Stories like this were common when students at a local East County high school participated in a focus group last month to discuss current drug trends on their campus, the Grossmont Union High School District reports.
"There is no good faith, no no intentions..." -- Priscilla Schreiber, Board Member, who asserts that the GUHSD response "in no way satisifies what, I believe, the Grand Jury recommended."
"...The statement to the Grand Jury is a complete fabrication. The facts demonstrate there is no “intent” to build the Alpine high school ..." -- Sal Casamassimo, Chair, Alpine High School Citizens Committee
By Miriam Raftery
December 14, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Back in May, the San Diego Grand Jury issued a report urging the Grossmont Union High School District to "declare unconditionally, by December 31, 2013, if they are or are not going to build the 12th high school using funds from Propositions H and U.” The report, titled “Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice,” criticized the district Board for failing to build the school despite voters twice approving bond measures to fund the new school in Alpine, as ECM previously reported. The Grand Jury concluded, “Residents of the GUHSD and the greater Alpine area deserve clarity from the School Board regarding the proposed 12th high school."
Yesterday the Board issued the following brief media statement, which falls far short of the unconditional statement or clarity to district residents that the Grand Jury sought:
September 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Sprites of East County, a mother-daughter non-profit philanthropic organization, is looking for new members. The organization’s goals include providing volunteer service to local charities, financial assistance to their philanthropies, along with providing scholarships to deserving young girls in the community. Sprites is comprised of mothers and their 7th-12th grade daughters who reside in the Grossmont Union High School District.
Those interested in becoming a “Sprite” can contact membership coordinators Jocelyn Cherin and Emily Waring at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, and by mail at Sprites of East County Inc., P.O. Box 786, El Cajon, California 92022-0786.
District Records an Overall Gain of 14 Points
On August 29, 2013, the California Department of Education (CDE) released the 2013 Growth API for schools and districts in California. For high schools, the API measures how well students are performing on both the California Standards Tests (CSTs) as well as the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).
The Grossmont District’s API increased by 14 points to 769, marking the tenth consecutive year of growth.
In addition to significant growth at the District level, two of GUHSD’s high schools demonstrated dramatic improvements. El Cajon Valley High School increased its API by 73 points and Monte Vista posted a gain of 29 points. Below are additional highlights.
By Doug Deane
August 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – As you know, I was the Chairperson for the Grossmont Union High School District’s 2011 Boundary Study, and I appeared as a witness before the Grand Jury's Education Committee on 11/14/12. I am disappointed by many aspects of the GUHSD's July 25th response to the Grand Jury's report, and as the Boundary Committee Chair, I believe that I have a responsibility to clarify some misstatements and errors in the GUHSD Response to that report.
June 2, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- Throughout the month of June, approximately 5,340 students earning a high school diploma from nine comprehensive high schools, two charter high schools and three alternative high schools in the Grossmont Union High School District will be donning caps and gowns for commencement exercises. Below is information on each school, along with graduation schedules and names of valedictorians.
By Bill Weaver
May 24, 2013 (Alpine--originally written May 14, 2013) -- I am disappointed to report that new information has recently surfaced that indicates that Propositions H and U Bond funds have been grossly misused by the GUHSD, and that this misuse has been the subject of a cover-up by the GUHSD Trustees and Administrative staff. A "smoking gun" has been discovered that points toward unethical and non-transparent behavior by District staff, presumably under the direction of the Trustees.
You will see from the content in the attachment that District bond construction funds have been mismanaged at best, and GUHSD fiscal policies and decision-making are a train wreck. The attachment shows that the District's ongoing bond management practices and accounting procedures have cheated taxpayers and burdened the district with unsustainable district "OPEX" Operating Expenses.
By Miriam Raftery
May 21, 2013 (Alpine) – The San Diego County Grand Jury has issue a report blasting the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) for repeatedly axing plans to build a 12th high school in Alpine despite voters twice approving bond measures to construct the new high school. The report is descriptively titled Grossmont Union High School District—Fool Us Once, Fool Us Twice?
The Grand Jury found that “residents of the GUHSD and the greater Alpine area deserve clarity from the School Board regarding the proposed 12th high school."
The report referenced several past articles published in East County Magazine.
Eileen Bagg-Rizzo and Randy Cambou to Represent GUHSD in Prestigious San Diego County Teacher of the Year Competition
May 21, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)—At its Governing Board Meeting on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, the Grossmont Union High School District honored Teacher of the Year nominees from its school sites. These nominees are selected by their peers. A panel comprised of previous Teachers of the Year and District personnel selected two representatives from this distinguished group of nominees to be considered for the San Diego County Teacher of the Year competition. If selected to represent the County, the next step is the California State Teacher of the Year competition.
GUHSD 2013-14 Teacher of the Year Nominees:
GUHSD CITIZENS'' BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ISSUES ANNUAL REPORT: AS FUNDS RUN OUT, SOME PROJECTS PUT ON HOLD
March 19, 2013 (El Cajon)--On Thursday, March 7, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) presented their annual report to the GUHSD Governing Board. The CBOC is a group of 11 community volunteers who oversee the expenditure of Prop H and Prop U bond funds.
A cover letter from Chair Nancy Herbst raises concerns over finances in the wake of a recession and reduced state funds. Current funds will be exhausted by mid-2015, she warns, adding, "Further projects are planned, but will not be scheduled until future funding is more certain." A revised project schedule is included in the report. Prominent among projects placed on hold is the long-awaited 12th high school in Alpine.
Critics call action "meaningless"
February 12, 2013 (El Cajon )—Newly elected Grossmont Union High School District Board Trustee Jim Stieringer plans to introduce a resolution on the 12th high school for Alpine at the board meeting at 924 East Main Street, El Cajon. The public portion of the meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13.
The motion directs the GUHSD to developed modified building plans and submit to the Division of the State Architect (DSA) –but only after it is determined that the Alpine School District Unification plan is either abandoned or fails to achieve voter approval. In addition, the site and building plans must be modified to stay within the remaining budget.
By Miriam Raftery
January 15, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Visitors to websites for several high schools in the Grossmont Union High School District on Saturday morning found material posted by a hacker.
“One of the District's web servers was compromised,” district spokesperson Catherine Martin told East County Magazine. Several school home pages were “replaced with photos of Osama Bin Laden and some commentary,” she added.
GUHSD Board Member Jim Kelly led the last 8 years by controlling the Board’s majority; now with a new member, Jim Stieringer, elected, let's review progress of a 12th high school
By Bill Weaver
December 2, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--There is an endless trail of disingenuous acts on behalf the majority on the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) Governing Board; this editorial touches on a few. Let’s reflect on years past. Prop H passed in 2004, authorizing $274 million; the Superintendent and the Board put a 12th new high school in the main summarizing Ballot statement headlining the bond explanation. There was a GUHSD Long Range Facilities Master Plan (LRFMP) dated 2003 that stipulated a 12th high school for "Safety and Overcrowding" reasons.
Update Nov. 8: With 100% of precincts counted and a portion of the late absentee ballots, Schreiber and Stieringer have retained solid leads.
By Miriam Raftery
November 7, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – In one of the most bitterly contested races in East County, incumbent Priscillla Schreiber won reelection handily with 95% of votes counted with 28.17% of the vote in the Grossmont Union High School District. A Republican, Schreiber has been an outspoken champion for building a new high school in Alpine--and a vocal critic of the board majority on a range of issues.
That majority may shift, with challenger Jim Stieringer in second place at 19.04%--ahead of incumbent Gary Woods, who has 18.66%. Woods has taken heat for his opposition to the Alpine High School at a time when a Grand Jury investigation is probing possible misallocation of bond monies approved by voters for projects including the high school in Alpine.
A Rebuttal to Jim Kelly's guest editorial in ECM
By Bill Weaver, candidate, Grossmont Union High School Board
November 2, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Jim Kelly is a blue ribbon fibber. Jim Kelly says, "It is time to answer these misleading, politically-motivated attacks."
I'll say it is--there is only one politically motivated attack agent. It is Jim Kelly who for years has been officially the recruiter for the out of touch extremist right local party that is in charge of ruining the conservative name with its radical right agenda. There is zero validity to Jim Kelly's rebuttal.
By Miriam Raftery
View full forum videos by Paul Kruze:
October 25, 2012 (La Mesa)—Six candidates vying for two seats on the Grossmont Union High School District Board addressed topics ranging from budgets to bond money expenditures (reportedly the topic of a Grand Jury investigation) and from technology to integrity. The forum October 22 was sponsored by East County Magazine and moderated by Donna Barlett-May the League of Women Voters.
The fireworks started in opening remarks, when education advocate Bill Weaver assailed incumbent Gary Woods for a problem with “what I see as honesty,” alluding to use of bond monies that has reportedly drawn the scrutiny of San Diego's Grand Jury.