By KRIS REILLY, Editor
Lucerne Valley’s hot topic of the moment seems to come up no matter where you go.
A large chunk of time was devoted to the trouble facing local schools at the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association’s March meeting last week at the Senior Center.
LVEDA board member Sam Hart, who is also a member of the Save Our Schools committee, spoke to a gathering of roughly 40 people at last Tuesday’s meeting. He outlined the situation facing the schools, including the debt that the Lucerne Valley Unified School District hopes to pay off with a general obligation bond measure on the June ballot.
Hart said the measure, which would raise local property taxes by nearly $60 per year per $100,000 of assessed value for 40 years, would “return liquidity to the district.” He said the average homeowner in Lucerne Valley would pay $7 or less per month. He also said that there would be community oversight “to make sure that the funds are used correctly and not shifted to some other project.”
Hart also said that if the district becomes insolvent and the state takes over, “Most likely there will be a return to the model of busing the high school kids to Apple Valley.”
Several people at the meeting expressed frustration at the school board’s decision to take out a Certificates of Participation loan in 2007 — which has coupled with state funding shortfalls to put LVUSD in big financial trouble — as well as fear of the prospect of having their tax rates raised.
One audience member expressed concern that the district will still be in grave financial condition even if the bond passes, and then the state may eventually come in and take over anyway.
“That’s the biggest problem people have,” the man said. “If there was a guarantee that this would solve this problem now and forever, people would stand up and say yes.”
State funding shortfalls are likely to continue in the coming years, and there are in fact no guarantees that local schools can remain solvent in the future.
“It is a very difficult question,” Hart said. “And the truth is, I can’t predict the future. ... We’d rather try something and end up in a bad situation than do nothing and still have the same bad situation. I kind of the feel like I’m on the Titanic, but I’m not ready to bring out the band yet. ... I’d rather try. I’m going down kicking.”
A public meeting on the topic is planned for March 20 at 2 p.m. at the Lucerne Valley High School gymnasium. It was originally planned for the Community Center but has been moved because a large crowd is expected.
Kris Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (760) 985-8372.