Forgetting the almost half of a million dollars spent on rezoning efforts to date and the lost opportunity cost of not utilizing it over the last six years since it’s closure, the Encinitas Union School District would have you believe that converting a singular, fully capitalized and irreplaceable school site, into the current account side of the ledger in order to pay for current operating expenses is a prudent economic decision and in the best interest of “all of our children.”
Regrettably, if you reach this conclusion and recommend that the Pacific View Elementary School site be designated as “surplus,” in a very short time, the district, our children and community will have neither the money nor the school site. Contrast that economic reality with the alternative course of preserving this historic school site, making the necessary investment to restore it back to an acceptable and usable condition and making it available for current and future generations of Encinitas school children to experience and benefit from for generations to come.
Financially difficult times are not new to this school district, our region or our country. In fact, since 1883 (just 18 years after the end of the American Civil War) when town founder Mr. Pitcher donated this property to the community for use as a school site, we have experienced 34 economic downturns. If this school board were to sell off capitalized assets every four to five years as recessions routinely occur, we will soon exhaust our district’s assets and our community treasure.
As longtime Encinitas resident Ida Lou Coley pleaded in a letter to our community in 2003, she said, “The Pacific View site was never intended to be a ‘money making,’ ‘cash-flow’ tool for the school board, as challenging as their tasks may become financially.” She pointed to the Great Depression of the 1930s when the school and site were closed for several years. Even at that incredibly difficult economic time in our country, the school was maintained and used as a recreation center for children and supported in part by the WPA until it could be reopened.
So to the members of the 7/11 Committee, we ask you, what will your personal legacy be for our school children and community? Will you let this school board take the easy way out at the cost of a vital, cherished and historic school site? Or will you exercise the common sense and good judgment you all posses to take a long-term economic perspective on the value of our children’s well-being and academic success and hold this school board to a higher standard? Time will tell. The decision you reach will be a part of your own personal legacy and will mark a defining moment for our school children and community.
Bill Sparks and Sarah Garfield are Encinitas residents.