On Jan. 9, the Bonsall Unified School District board voted 5-0 to approve an agreement with the Fallbrook Union High School District which will transfer a share of FUHSD assets and liabilities to the Bonsall district.
“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of collaboration in the best interests of the entire community,” said BUSD superintendent Justin Cunningham.
In the event of a school district reorganization, a transfer of assets and liabilities is negotiated. In November 2012, the voters of both the Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) and the Bonsall Union School District approved Proposition BB, which will transform the Bonsall district from a K-8 feeder district to a K-12 unified district while removing that area from the FUHSD boundaries. The actual reorganization will take effect on July 1, 2014, although in February 2013 a transitional Bonsall Unified School District including a board identical to the elementary school board was created to handle transitional matters.
Cunningham, FUHSD superintendent Dale Mitchell, BUSD assistant superintendent for business services Tom Krzmarzick, FUHSD chief business officer Wil Hatcher, San Diego County Office of Education staff, and legal counsel worked on the distribution of assets and liabilities.
“It was a good working group,” Cunningham said. “It went smoothly.”
The high school district’s total assets were calculated at $38.3 million with liabilities of $5.8 million, creating a $32.5 million net value of the Fallbrook district prior to the transfer. The percentage of assets and liabilities to be transferred to the Bonsall district was based on the share of Bonsall students currently attending FUHSD schools (in addition to Fallbrook High School, the high school district also operates the Ivy High School continuation program and the Oasis High School independent study program), and the school districts agreed that 18 percent of FUHSD assets and liabilities should be transferred.
The $32.5 million and 18 percent figures led to a transfer of $5.86 million of FUHSD assets for the Bonsall district, although not all of that will be in cash. “A big portion of it is special education services credits,” Cunningham said.
The transfer will include $2 million in cash, special education service credits for Bonsall residents currently enrolled in FUHSD special education programs, transfer of all developer fees FUHSD collected during the 2013-14 school year for development within BUSD boundaries, and the transfer of title of the 50-acre Gird Road property the Fallbrook district acquired in 1967 with the intent of building a second high school in the district once enrollment at Fallbrook High School reached 1,800 students.
The Bonsall Unified School District property owners will also be responsible for their share of repaying the general obligation bonds approved by FUHSD voters in the June 1994 election. Bonsall Union School District voters approved their own general obligation bond in the November 2005 election.
“I really want to applaud Dale and his team,” Cunningham said. “It could have been a tough situation, unifications can be, but I think Dr. Mitchell handled it really well.”