Garrison Elementary was forced to close because of sinkholes. / Image courtesy of NBC 7

The future is unclear for two elementary schools in the Oceanside Unified School District.

On Tuesday night, the school board held a forum to hear from parents and staff from the Garrison Elementary School and San Luis Rey Elementary School communities.

The schools recently merged at the San Luis Rey site when Garrison was forced to close last summer due to several sinkholes. The district forced students from Garrison Elementary to transfer to San Luis Rey in the beginning of the school year, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in October. An engineering report recommended the district remove and replace the entire storm drain system at an estimated cost of $13 million.

The district had set aside $25 million from the 2008 school bond measure Proposition H, for modernization at Garrison, but the storm drain project would consume more than half of that, according to district staff, the U-T reported in January.

Now it’s up to the school board to decide what to do.

The options: It could repair the storm drain system and reopen Garrison Elementary School or continue accommodate students from Garrison at San Luis Rey or neighboring schools. The board also proposed closing both schools and moving all students to neighboring schools or figuring out some other option, according to district documents. Some of the forum’s attendees suggested creating a new school altogether to accommodate students at both schools, according to Fox 5 San Diego.

I asked Matthew Jennings, a spokesman for the district, if it’s possible both schools could close.

“Currently the board is considering several options and taking community input,” Jennings wrote in an email. “No decisions have been made. We held a meeting last night and have another one tonight to gather community input.” Tonight’s meeting is at Martin Luther King Middle School at 6 p.m.

The school board is expected to make a final decision in March.

Last year, the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team found that 15 out of 24 campuses in the Oceanside Unified School District had enrollment below 80 percent capacity, and three had less than 50 percent capacity. “Due to the declining enrollment, the district has a surplus of facilities,” the agency wrote.

The district recently closed Ocean Shores, a continuation high school.

Money and Endorsements Are Flowing in the County Supes Races

Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and Terra Lawson-Remer are leading the fundraising race in the contest for the District 3 seat on the County Board of Supervisors. Campaign finance disclosure documents show Gaspar raised $253,993 during the second half of 2019 and has $301,661 cash on hand. Lawson-Remer raised $135,729 and has about $156,768 cash on hand, the Coast News reported.

Here’s our breakdown of campaign finances in the District 3 race:

Over in the District 2 race, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and former Sen. Joel Anderson, both Republicans, have outraised Democrat Kenya Taylor by far. Vaus has the support of County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who has basically pledged to spend her remaining campaign funds –  around $500,000 – on his behalf while Anderson has money left over from a previous large donation facilitated by the Republican Party, Scott Lewis reported in a recent Politics Report.

Here’s our breakdown of campaign finances in the District 2 race:

Last week, the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board endorsed Escondido Councilwoman Olga Diaz in the District 3 race and Vaus in the District 2 race. The U-T also interviewed all of the candidates in the both races.

P.S. I want to hear from you! Send me an email or message me on Twitter with what you want to know about your local ballot and I’ll try to get it answered before the March 3 primary election in the next North County report.

What We’re Working on

  • In recent months, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear has been at the center of polarizing debates on housing, homelessness and transportation. “I recognize that it would be better if this Council, with community consensus, could put together a housing plan and we could agree as a community that this was for the good and we could move forward with it,” Blakespear told me in an October interview. “But that is just not the reality in Encinitas.”
  • The Encinitas City Council OK’d a safe parking program for homeless residents with cars in North County after a marathon meeting on Jan. 22. Councilman Tony Kranz cast the only vote against the program. I was there and captured the emotional tension between residents on both sides of the plan.
  • Poway Unified wants voters to approve another school bond nine years after a notorious bond deal led to anger, a new state law and new school officials, Ashly McGlone writes. McGlone also fact checked a claim district officials have made as they make the case for the bond.

In Other News

  • Escondido is also asking voters to OK a school bond. This one’s for $205 million to improve facilities, campus safety and add science and technology labs at schools in the Escondido Union School District. (Union-Tribune)
  • CSU San Marcos and the California State University System agreed to pay $240,000 to settle a lawsuit after a Students For Life chapter, an anti-abortion group on campus, complained the university refused to use student fees to fund an anti-abortion speaker on campus. (Union-Tribune)
  • Palomar College has a new acting president and superintendent. (Union-Tribune)
  • Carlsbad approved a $4 million contribution to build 50 apartments for homeless residents, low-income veterans and their families in the downtown Barrio neighborhood. (Union-Tribune)
  • Oceanside voters will decide on Measure K in March. It could switch the city’s city clerk city treasurer position from one that’s elected to one that’s appointed. (Union-Tribune)
  • Coast News reporter Steve Horn, who covers Escondido and San Marcos, is leaving the paper. “I’ve decided to move on to other endeavors on a part-time basis, mainly based around the general theme that local media here doesn’t pay well and its salaries aren’t at all in line with how expensive this city is,” Horn wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday.
  • San Dieguito Unified High School District school choice starts on Feb. 13, The Coast News reports. Want to find out your school district’s school choice window? Voice of San Diego has you covered in our newest edition of A Parent’s Guide to Public Schools.

Kayla Jiminez was a staff writer for Voice of San Diego. She covered about communities, politics and regional issues in North County as well as school...

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