Dear Editor:

The past year has been difficult for everyone — especially for our schools. I am reaching out to our community to highlight the importance of transparency in the spending of our Measure M bond funds.

I started paying attention to what our bond funds were being spent on when I learned that Cabrillo Unified School District built a fence next to another pre-existing fence on school grounds, costing over $17,000 with no permit, no contract and no bidding. As of June 2021, bond-funded improvements of approximately $20 million, $46 million and $10 million are planned for Farallone View, El Granada and Half Moon Bay High School, respectively. I am told that there are no additional funds available for more work. However, bond funds are being used to fund additional items on an ongoing basis, including, for example, fences, outside counsel legal fees and landscaping. If the district spends less than $50,000, it is not being reviewed and approved by the school board. It is unclear why.

HMBHS originally had $34 million allocated in June 2020 in the Master Plan, but now has the least funds assigned and is at the earliest stages of planning. I am concerned that in the end there will be no bond funds left for the high school — the facility that serves the most students in the district.

While the large-scale building plans are positive and exciting, it is important for our bond funds to have a tangible, immediate, positive impact on the day-to-day experience of our students and teachers. Why are we not making desperately needed repairs to the classrooms, the bathrooms and the high school pool (where tiles are literally falling off) as normal course of business while we have bond funds available? School boards do not have an easy job these days, but we need to advocate for our children and require the appropriate level of transparency and compliance in the spending of our bond funds. Let’s do something that makes our kids’ and teachers’ lives a little better, please.

Monica Rosoff

Half Moon Bay

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(1) comment

Cid Young

Bond money is spent without oversight, until after it is spent, at which point some appointed local "Cheerleaders" called a "Citizens Oversight Committee" rubber stamp all After-the-Fact expenditures on completed projects. (That is after all the cows have already left the barn.) By the way, no one ever holds their feet to the fire to do anything on the stated "wish-list" when they are "selling" the voters the idea for a new Bond (Measure M = $99 million).

I attended the Measure S - $81 Million dollar School Bond meeting when Superintendent Gaskill was quoting a rosy "wish list" like "How about using the money for a Performing Arts Center and a New Pool for the High School" schtick, plus the actual language on the Measure S Ballot was to "Replace Leaky Roofs" however once Measure S passed, "Poof" went the plans for THE NEW POOL, THE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER AND the Roofs were never replaced, only patched. And they somehow used up all of the $81 million dollars in 6 short years, but were back with outstretched palms once again, as soon as it was all spent, asking for a mere $99 Million for more Bond Money which narrowly passed by the thinnest of margins. After the voters were dupped into passing Measure M, They quickly improved the high school tennis courts for $280 Thousand dollars before a Facilities Master Plan was ever created, but meanwhile, schools like El Granada Elementary and Farallone View in Montara got pennies compared to all the dollars that were focused on the facilities in Half Moon Bay. I do not know who should be blamed on their choice of spending, but we do have a past facilities manager who was pushing things through without getting proper permits or was claiming that the District was exempt from CEQA and skirted the ADA requirements for the High School Track re-model. After a group sued, the school District had to start over from scratch and pay their own legal fees as well as the Prevailing party's legal fees. I went to that school board meeting also, and begged them to hold off until CEQA and ADA was satisfied, but the Board, headed by Rob Papalardo, all approved it ANYWAY, DESPITE the Citizens requesting them to hold off. They were all head-nodding in agreement like a bunch of cows watching the train go by.

And by the way, Measure M has a thirty year repayment and the interest will be and additional $95 Million on top of the $99 million principal that they borrowed against our houses. Measure S, the $81 million dollar Bond which they quickly spent in only 6 years ... we will all be paying that back via our Property Tax bills for 40years.

If they say they are again out of money since Measure M passed in 2018, then I wonder if they have hit their "DEBT CEILING" of borrowing as yet? Or are they already making plans to ask again for more money without retiring the other bonds first?

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