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Local News October 19th, 2006


Report Ordered by Fired Superintendent Shows SMUSD in Financial Trouble

Long before he “resigned,” San Marcos School Superintendent Ed Brand had ordered a study to analyze the district’s fiscal management and project its financial future.

The results are in and the news is not good.

According to a 26 page report the San Marcos Unified School District is on the ropes financially unless they deal quickly with deficit spending, retirement benefits and collective bargaining.

Curiously, the district has had this report since January. Thus it seems even stranger that they would bestow a $300,000+ “retirement package” on former Superintendent Brand when they knew full well that they had heavy financial problems to contend with.

Gary Hamels, Assistant Superintended of business services said he had reviewed the study, prepared by School Services of California, and he found the study to be accurate and he has shared the information with the board.

Downtown Escondido Alleys To Gain Lighting

In a combined effort between the The Downtown Business Association, The City of Escondido and The Escondido Police Department, a Downtown Alley Lighting Project has begun.

The Escondido Police Department is working on this project to identify areas in the alleys that are underlit during the hours of darkness, 8pm-6am, to eliminate areas of potential unlawful activity. Their recommendations for lighting will be used to increase the walkability in the alleys to all areas downtown. The Downtown Business Association is also reviewing existing and anticipated pedestrian pathways from parking lots to the downtown and to the Signature Pavilion, in order to light those areas making it safer and more user friendly for our visitors.

The City plans on upgrading the parking lot lights to make downtown even more welcoming and easier for visitors to navigate.

Jeff Felix Leaving San Pasqual Union School District

Jeff Felix, who took a tiny San Pasqual Valley school ing grew it to a widely respected school district with modern buildings, facilities and staff, has resigned his position to accept a similar position at a much larger school district, the 1,800 student Bonsall Unions Schnool District. He starts his new duties there next week, on Ocober 25th.

His staff and students at the San Pasqual District had mixed emotions. They all hated to see him leave but are pleased that he is moving on to newer and larger challenges and also pleased with the many changes he brought to this district in a relatively short period of time.

Proposition M Dealing With Opposition

In spite of phone banks that have made over 16,000 phone calls in the last month, trying to sell the over $700 million bond measure, Palomar College officials and volunteers continue to run into skeptical voters.

A general feeling of there being too many bond issues too often seems to be prevalent, along with consistent questions of “how much would this bond issue raise my property tax bill?”

Bonnie Dowd, vice president of finance for the college, confirms that property owners in Palomar’s district could end up paying for longer than 50 years on the the bond measure. Also, that the $14.72 per $100,000 in assessed property value was not “set in stone.” The $14.72 is only an estimate and the cost could go higher if the economy and property values drop.

SMUSD Prevails in Lawsuit Brought by Teacher

The San Marcos Unified School District did not create "intolerable" working conditions for former Knob Hill Elementary Principal Gregory Orth, so says a jury in the sexual harassment suit he had filed.

Orth had claimed in his suit against the district that he was forced out of his post as principal in the wake of the sexual harassment charge. The teacher, Sarah Fehrman, who now works at Discovery Elementary, dropped the charge in August 2003.

Orth’s suit against the district was filed two years after Fehrman dropped her complain, in April 2005. He argued in Superior Court he was treated "intolerably" because he defended himself during the sexual harassment lawsuit in 2002. He charged the district with "defamation, retaliation, malicious prosecution, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress." He also alleged in the suit that district officials used "unsubstantiated allegations" to defame his "work ethic" and harm his career and reputation.

On Sept. 28, the jury delivered its verdict. The jury did not agree.





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