On Nov. 6, the voters of the Bonsall Union School District and the other two elementary school districts within the Fallbrook Union High School District authorized the creation of the Bonsall Unified School District, which turns the Bonsall Union School District from a K-8 district into a K-12 district while removing that area from the FUHSD boundaries. On Feb. 26, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors officially created the Bonsall Unified School District while terminating the Bonsall Union School District and creating new FUHSD boundaries as of June 30, 2014.
“It gets the ball rolling,” said Bonsall superintendent Justin Cunningham.
Normally a school district reorganization election involves two elections: one whether to create the new district and the other to select the board members of the new district should the reorganization pass. In most cases a reorganization vote to convert a K-8 district to a unified K-12 district is held only within the boundaries of the proposed new district, but the vote to create the Bonsall Unified School District involved voters from the entire high school district. The State Board of Education granted a waiver to allow for the appointment of an interim governing board contingent upon Bonsall unification passing. That also had financial benefits. “If it didn’t pass it seemed like a waste of time to also have a board election,” Cunningham said.
The waiver allowed the interim governing board of the Bonsall Unified School District to be appointed by San Diego County Office of Education superintendent Randy Ward, who stated that he would appoint the current five Bonsall Union School District members to the unified district board. There will thus be two legal Bonsall districts with boards through June 30, 2014, as the Bonsall Union School District will remain until then. “We’ll be winding down that district,” Cunningham said. “We’ll also have to have meetings of the Bonsall Unified School District to get that district up and running.”
The Bonsall Union School District normally meets on the second Thursday of each month, and March 14 will be the organizational meeting of the Bonsall Unified School District. The Bonsall Unified School District board members will be sworn in March 14 and the officers of that district will be selected. Future Bonsall Unified School District meetings will also likely be on the second Thursday if holidays don’t intervene. “What we’ll probably try to do is have both board meetings the same night,” Cunningham said.
While teachers and other staff members of the Bonsall Union School District will automatically become employees of the Bonsall Unified School District, other changes must be handled by the board and staff. “Every vehicle the school district owns will have to be re-registered,” Cunningham said. “That’s just one of the little things.”
Contracts will also have to be amended to reflect the replacement district. The new board must also officially hire a superintendent, adopt policies, approve curriculum, and negotiate employee contracts. “It’s going to take a lot of work to get all of that done,” Cunningham said.
The Bonsall Unified School District will begin with ninth-graders for the 2014-15 year and will phase in higher grades in subsequent years until the school district has seniors for 2017-18. Bonsall is expected to offer limited athletics, and the Bonsall Unified School District must apply for CIF membership.
The terms of the interim Bonsall Unified School District board members will expire on Dec. 4, 2014, after which the candidates who were successful in the November 2014 election will constitute the board.
The two school districts will have separate budgets; the unified district as a new district may borrow state funds and may also seek grants or other resources. Due to expenses such as athletic facilities and student parking, the Average Daily Attendance formula provides more money per student for a unified district than for a K-8 district.
The Bonsall Unified School District will retain its proportionate share of Fallbrook Union High School District indebtedness. Once the Bonsall Union School District is phased out, the high school district will consist of the boundaries of the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District and the Vallecitos School District.