Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

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By Katherine Davidson

Residents of the Cold Spring School District will soon be voting on a proposed $7.8 million bond measure.  I am writing to share with the community why I have decided to VOTE NO on L2020.

I have been a resident of the Cold Spring School District since 1981.  Our children attended Cold Spring School and my husband and I happily donated our time and money to enhance their experience.  I have worked as an educator for 24 years and care deeply about the school and what it provides to our community.

I recently served on the District’s Governing Board.  My priorities then and now are fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability, and representing the 87% of the electorate who do not have children currently enrolled in the school – voices that have long been absent from the decision-making processes of the District.

I resigned my position after 2 ½ years because I could not, in good conscience, support and defend Board majority decisions that I believed were detrimental to the District’s fiscal health, in conflict with Board policies, and damaging to the morale of the teachers and the staff.

Here are the specific reasons I believe taxpayers should VOTE NO on L2020:

Once again, the District has failed to engage all of its residents.

There have been no community forums and no solicitation of community input.  We taxpayers are being asked to hand over $7.8 million to pay for buildings and projects that we had no part in determining the need for.  This is the opposite of transparency and inclusion.

The District doesn’t want the residents involved in planning and decision-making – they only want us to donate money or vote to tax ourselves.

I’m not confident that the bond money will be spent appropriately or responsibly.

The District has been deficit spending for many years, relying on fundraising and grants to make up the difference.  How is it that this well-funded (through taxes) District with only 177 students hasn’t figured out how to live within its means?

A Board member recently stated that “they have compiled a list of projects that need to be completed, however, seeing as how the bond is yet to pass, there currently are not plans, bids, or proposals.” How in the world did the District come up with the $7.8 million figure?

A teacher on staff who teaches at most 12 hours per week (compared to about 24 hours per week for a regular classroom teacher) is paid a full-time salary plus overtime and benefits (for a total of over $136,000 in 2018).

The two top administrators are paid about 9% of the budget of $4.3 million (about $400,000 altogether), and the entire administrative team costs about 17% of the budget.  The national average for administrative costs is 4.5% of the budget.

The previous Business Manager was paid a base salary of $88,000 per year for a 100% position.  The current CBO/General Counsel is paid a base salary of $144,000 for a 60% position.  Assuming 2/3 of his time is for CBO duties means that the District is paying $95,040 per year for a 40% CBO position (or $237,000 per year if it were full-time).  Let’s also talk about the conflict of interest inherent in having any individual serve as both the CBO and General Counsel.

The District has long exhibited a lack of transparency and accountability.

This is nothing new and has become engrained in the District’s culture.

My experience on the Board was that thoughtful discussions and public consensus-building during Board meetings are virtually non-existent.  Decisions about issues are being made outside of the public’s view and unanimous votes during Board meetings are expected. Asking questions is not only considered “disrespectful,” but actively discouraged and shut down.

For these reasons, I have no confidence in the success of a bond measure oversight committee.

Taxpayers and students deserve responsible school spending.

There is no doubt in my mind that poor planning, questionable financial decisions, and lack of attention on the part of previous Governing Boards and Administrations have allowed the facilities and the finances to reach their present state.

Existing bonds that were meant to address many of the projects on the current bond measure list will not be paid off until 2039.  The proposed bond won’t be paid off until at least 2052.

It is astounding to me that a District with so much wealth and privilege is asking for even more -- in the middle of a pandemic and economic catastrophe, no less.

Yes, of course I want the students and staff of Cold Spring School to have clean, safe, modern facilities in which to work and learn.  I just do not trust the current Cold Spring School leadership with $7.8 million.  That’s why I will VOTE NO on L2020 and I recommend that the other residents of the district VOTE NO on L2020, too.

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Basicinfo805 Oct 18, 2020 07:14 PM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

I get it. I feel much the same way. I used to vote yes for any and all school bonds thinking we should be supporting schools, who wouldn't want that? Most of us went through the public school system and want to support that concept. I still do. But guess what, the current group of local school districts and administrators are very capable of wasting endless taxpayer dollars. No thanks. Vote no. We're seeing a LOT of money being sucked into the schools with very poor results. It's not about money and spending, it's about changing the way we teach our kids.

yacht rocked Oct 19, 2020 06:42 AM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

Montecito/Summerland water district wants to combine with Carp Valley water district. Sure, but only if Montecito public school districts combine with Carp/Summerland school district. ;) Use that water to lift all student boats.

haskelslocal Oct 19, 2020 07:35 AM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

67% of our SB property bill is for school districts. This number is WAY outside reason. That it's possible to even vote on increasing it one penny is insane. That a large group of people can simply vote that a smaller group should foot the bill for pet projects. The reason they have capital project issues is because they spend the money raised on not necessary administrative salaries and pensions. This has to stop. Way to much money filters to admin and then, whenever a project is kicked down the road, they pretend they want a bond to cover the expenses. Goleta Union is attempting this again with Measure M. Vote No on all of these shell game tactics. If we want better educated kids, Pay the Teachers and reduce all the admin redundancy.

The entire idea that a large group of people can vote "yes" and approve that a smaller group of people will have to legally pay a bill borderlines on illegal. Not to mention, this is NEVER an issue with students or teachers and is ALWAYS an issue with bloated admin salaries and forever pensions. Also, the money is NOT for what they say it is anymore then you asking someone to borrow money to pay rent and then you go out and get an iPhone. It's just a shell game. Vote No on all of these bond measures.

Chainsaw Don Oct 19, 2020 07:35 AM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

Enrollment is down to 177 from a high of 255. Average classroom size 14. One classroom had 7. Administration has doubled in size and takes over 17% of the budget. They receive $27,000/child/year +. Drive down to Cleveland, Franklin where they recurved 10,000 -$12,000 /child. Cold Spring School spending is completely out of control. Vote No

letmego Oct 19, 2020 09:33 AM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

CHAINSAW DON- Cold Springs elementary rates a 9/10, Cleveland a 3/10. Test scores are not even close. You get what you pay for.
Cleveland at or above standards: ELA 19.68%, Math: 16.15%
Cold Spring elementary: ELA 92.63%, Math: 90.52%

Byzantium Oct 19, 2020 11:04 AM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

Student success rates have nothing to do with per pupil funding. Parental engagement, classroom discipline, higher expectations, stopping social promotions, and mastery of the English language play a far greater role in student success; than class size or funding. If teachers want more pay they can opt out of their $1000 a year teacher union dues right now for an instant raise. Stop making schools operate as money-losing feeding centers, and there is another instant infusion of operating cash.

citizenSB Oct 20, 2020 01:52 PM
Cold Spring School District Bond Measure L2020

Two top administrators? They used to have 1 administrator - who was the principal and superintendent of the one school district.
The number of kids are way down -- do they really need extra classrooms?
In the 1990's Cold Spring's revenue was barely more that the CA revenue limit, now they are more than double revenue limit, seems they have used it to bloat administration instead of capital projects.
Talking about protables -- they were bought by Westmont in negotiations for their faculty kids to attend Cold Spring -- what is Westmont paying towards the replacement?

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