ENCINITAS — Following a lengthy appeal process and settlement, Cardiff School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously on May 18 to secure a $2.6 million loan, helping to close a funding gap on the Cardiff School construction project as well as announcing students will begin classes at the new campus by January 2021.
In a press release, the district reported a $4 million financial deficit, a “ripple effect” originating from a lawsuit with the Cardiff Preservation Society causing “substantial legal fees, increased construction and contract costs, as well as a significant impact of the project scope and timeline.”
The district laid out the financial consequences of the contentious lawsuit that put a halt to all construction this past winter.
The $2.6 million loan sought by the district has a fixed annual interest rate of 3.15% over 25 years, with an annual repayment amount of $159,000.
The funds will only partially cover the expenses incurred from the subsequent lawsuit, part of which includes a $500,000 settlement payout made to the plaintiffs in March 2020 as well as $832,000 in the district’s own legal fees.
At the center of the claims made by the lawsuit is a 1993 grant agreement between the City of Encinitas and the school district requiring the playfields to be used solely for outdoor recreation in perpetuity.
The district laid out their process of applying for a “well-established boundary adjustment” with the Office of Grants and Local Services and the National Park Service — the agencies administering the grant program — laying blame for any delays on the plaintiff’s lawsuit itself.
Citing extensive water damage from heavy rainfall that occurred during the halt in construction, the district justified further alterations to the project design amounting to over $2 million, as well as contract extensions, architectural and bond program management services, and grant permits costing $650,000.
Furthermore, the district expanded on how the timeline and physical scope of the project was negatively impacted.
One additional classroom building has been tabled due to budgetary constraints and the project’s timeline for completion has been pushed three months, which will cause all K-2 students to move into their new classrooms in December 2020 — not in September 2020, as originally projected.
Once students have moved into new classrooms, final landscaping and site work will be completed by June of 2021.
The district’s press release reassured constituents that it is eager to move forward with the campus overhaul voted on by 65.9% of Cardiff voters in 2016.
“We are happy to finally be on the other side of this time-consuming and costly lawsuit, and to see the project moving forward according to the student-focused design that was developed with stakeholder input and finalized two years ago,” said Jill Vinson, Superintendent of the Cardiff School District.
Siena Randall, Cardiff School District Board President added, “we are excited to see the new campus taking shape and to know that when completed, it will meet the needs of students now and in the future.”
For more information on the project and construction updates visit www.cardiffschools.com/measuregg.
Caitlin Steinberg is a Leucadia resident who is covering all things Encinitas for The Coast News.
She is also a fine art photographer, as well as a military historian and CEO of Operation Green Faces, a 501(c)3 nonprofit preserving the oral histories of UDT & SEAL Team operators in the Vietnam War.