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Trustee Schreiber Alleges Grand Jury Probe of Grossmont Union HS District

Report says proposed Alpine High School was victim of bond money transfer to other schools.

Updated at 12:59 p.m. Oct. 15, 2012

A dissident school board member says the San Diego County Grand Jury is investigating the Grossmont Union High School District over accusations that voter-approved bond money has been steered away from a promised new Alpine high school.

The school—a 12th campus in the district—was never built, leading to a community effort to break away from the school district.

East County Magazine quoted board trustee Priscilla Schreiber as saying Proposition H and U funds were “only supposed to be used to improve faciliti­es with 16,000-square-foot multi-purpose facilities. But our staff inflated that into these performing art centers with 35,000 square feet.”

Schreiber, who is up for re-election in November, told the online site this would have inflated costs by $40 million.

“I stopped the process, but Helix got through,” she said, referring to a $15.2 million, 34,194-square-foot performing arts project on the La Mesa campus, arguing that that the board never approved the spending. “Now, Grossmont wants one.”

The report by East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery was posted Saturday and said Schreiber learned of the probe “by accident” while in the district’s office.

Raftery said “multiple sources” confirmed the investigation, although only one was cited and such investigations are never publicly revealed.

East County Magazine said a spokesman for East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob could neither confirm nor deny if she has been in contact with the Grand Jury on the matter.

The site also quoted Doug Deane, past co-chair of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee and chair of the GUHSD Boundary Committee.

“The Grand Jury investigation into the use of bond money by the GUHSD does not surprise me,” Deane is quoted as saying. “I believe that the GUHSD board has been at the very least irresponsible, and at worst negligent, in their use of Prop. U bond money.”

Schreiber has been critical of actions taken by the Grossmont school board majority of Gary Woods and Robert Shields of La Mesa and Jim Kelly of Santee. The fifth member is Dick Hoy of La Mesa.

Woods, along with Schreiber, faces challenges from four other candidates in the Nov. 6 election—former Grossmont Healthcare District board member Jim Stieringer, Alpine high school advocate Bill Weaver, writer Barbara Stevens and SDSU junior Zach Miller.

Weaver has been involved in an effort to form an Alpine Unified School District, effectively removing students from the Grossmont district.

Mark Price, a member of the Alpine Union School District board since 2000, told Patch: “The Grand Jury investigation couldn't be happening to a more deserving district.” 

Sal Casamassima, chairman of the Alpine High School Citizens Committee, said neither he nor his group had a comment on the reputed investigation.

“But from my point of view, all of [the report’s specific] comments are spot on and accurate,” Casamassima told Patch via email. “There is no need to respond to an article that was excellently written and exposes what is really going on within the Grossmont district.”

He said the district unification effort continues to gather petition signatures.

“We are approaching the halfway point with the number of signatures that are needed to file our petition with the San Diego County Board of Education and the signature effort will be our primary focus for the next several weeks,” he said.

Casamassima said Monday that a community forum on unification will take place after the election—not Oct. 23 as first thought.

Stieringer, also responding to a Patch query, noted that he had expressed strong support for the construction of a high school in Alpine.  And he said he respected differences among the current board members, “all of whom have my highest respect. I applaud their positive action in having procured the site for the proposed school.”

But he said he found it distressing that district Superintendent Ralf Swenson has “arbitrarily withdrawn the building plans submitted to the State Architect [Office]. If that allegation turns out to be true, I am certain that all five board members will demand to know why that was done.”

If elected, he said,  “I would make engendering collegiality my first priority. As part of that effort I would make every effort to convince my new colleagues that we should promptly move toward construction of the voter-approved school. 

He stressed that a Grand Jury investigation is “simply speculative and not confirmed.”

“I am confident that the district’s staff and governing board will do whatever turns out to be the proper action,” he said via email Saturday.

Weaver told Patch that even though “my opinions are cause to be suspect” because he is a school board candidate, “I respond because history makes the case strong that this GUHSD board majority is disingenuous to their mission of governing to the needs of the high school district, as best served.”

He said he was tired of false hope and asserted that the current board has “lied, twisted truth and created delays that should have succeeded long ago to accomplish their goal—kill the HS12 project.”

He shared some documents (attached) about the history of the Alpine high school project.

“We grow weary of the dishonest covert tactics practiced by this board—that pit district bounded communities against other district bounded communities, those greedy folks wanting to build that new high school,” Weaver said via email.

“This board forgets they made the offer, the promise [of an Alpine high school]…. These voters and taxpayers … should be treated as deserving of equal treatment, equal to all the other district constituencies, with local community domiciled HS campuses.”

David B Secor October 13, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Bill Weaver is right in advocating for an Alpine Unified School District. Just as interests in East County are often ignored by the majority on the County Board of Supervisors, schools and students located further east in the Grossmont School District find their interests often take a back seat (and are sometimes just thrown in the trunk) to those closer to central power. Alpine should take a very serious look at forming its own district, rather than depend on accidentally and occasionally stumbling upon information that demonstrates clearly that the people, and particularly the kids, in Alpine are considered 2nd or 3rd Class citizens by Grossmont. If it's feasible, and not too expensive, Alpine should stand up and stand apart from the Grossmont District.
Batman October 14, 2012 at 03:45 AM
I agree with you on this one Mr Secor. Alpine should form their own high school district. Alpine has about as much in common with La Mesa, El Cajon and Spring Valley as Mobile, Alabamba has in common with New York City.
Bill A. Weaver October 14, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Play, watch, and read the attached documents; the PowerPoint, PDF, and 2003 GUHSD Long Range Facility Master Plan that Mr. Stone (author) has provided supporting this story. This School Board acts in petty, vindictive, self-serving, & deceitful ways, at the expense of many communities. Twisted truths and manufactured lies about Helix Charter High a few years back, they've fought Steele Canyon (Rancho SD) going Charter to get away from GUHSD manipulation, they spent Millions on a scheme to defraud taxpayers and voters, and its own district parents, to avoid building a new HS that could and would bring many many Millions in new education funds back into the GUHSD. They've enacted policies sending students fleeing, to attend non-district charters, private schools, and far away hi-tech high schools. They've ignored its' own Commission and Committee reports, policies have created turnover at key administrative positions. Yes, we have a school district with many unhappy parents and students, will continue to see decline, unless there is "Change in the Boardroom." Alpine peeling away, likely others follow, or after Helix, and Steele Canyon, is this a trend. The GUHSD may self-destruct if policy reforms aren't enacted.
ProPeople October 14, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Time to elect new GUHSD board members! ZACH MILLER won my vote because he's got a student's perspective. I believe he would care about the Alpine students having to go to a school far away from their homes, when it's totally unnecessary. The GUHSD can do better with new leadership that cares about students!
Bill A. Weaver October 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
At Helix Charter High are a couple of wonderful projects; 1) Is the performing arts center. Yes, a beautiful facility, 2) Is the new Science Bldg... All possible because of Proposition U funding, passed by voters in 2008! Did you know that the GUHSD Gov. Board incumbent up for re-election; Dr. Gary Woods publicly and openly said,"he opposes Proposition U, the bond measure which would fund modernization of classrooms in the GUHSD district." So in fact; Dr. Woods did not support either of these two Helix High School projects! See; http://eastcountymagazine.org/guhsd ... And also; Do you remember that Dr. Woods, back in 2008, helped propagate this fraudulent news release; “Major Announcement to Reveal Startling new Information Regarding the Ongoing Helix High School Sex Scandal Investigation and Cover-up” “San Diego, Ca – October 21, 2008 [U-T Article, Nov. 15, 2008] – Grossmont Union High School District Trustee Jim Kelly, joined by concerned citizens, will reveal vital new information regarding the sex scandal at Helix... The two concerned citizens attended the press conference with Mr. Kelly, Meg Jedynak and Gary Woods, who are both candidates for the Grossmont Union High School District Board. See http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20081115/news_lz1ez15lamesa.html
Barbara October 15, 2012 at 02:13 AM
This is exactly why I decided to run for the Grossmont Union High School Board! It's time for board reform in the Grossmont District! We need to start focusing on the real needs the entire student population within our district and not just one community. The board needs to stop using this district for their own personal political gains and start focusing on student education! Ms. Schrieber must have a very short memory, and must have forgotten her own involvement in not only the way money was spent on projects, but her own involvement in terms of actually voting to approve these projects, including the Master Plan which SPECIFICALLY focused efforts on the Performing Arts Center projects. Barbara Stevens, Candidate GUHSD Board of Trustees
Barbara October 15, 2012 at 02:14 AM
There was also a presentation made to the Board on April 2, 2009 entitled "Building a New Grossmont. Arts, Media & Entertainment." In this presentation, a process flow chart outlines the planning process which starts with the Steering Committee (including the Board Members) and including Planning Committees, which include representatives of all the sites including dept. heads, involved faculty, and principals, It was clearly outlined that BOARD APPROVAL was required before moving onto the phase of Pre-Planning that would involve design review and moving forward from there. There were TEN pages devoted to photos of expected performance areas, dance rooms, etc. There was a diagram of the expected theater. The decision process for replacing the old Helix theater and associated classrooms was not some surprise project that "slipped through" under the radar. It was voted on and approved by the Board. Barbara Stevens, Candidate GUHSD
Barbara October 15, 2012 at 02:15 AM
And as far "where has the Alpine school money has gone?" Starting with the hiring of a Program Manager in 2007 under the guidance of a Bond Advisory Committee formed under the leadership of Ms. Priscilla Schreiber and then board president Larry Urdahl. With those decisions how much has the Program Manager cost the district? Then to hand a $11 million No-Bid Contract to this very same company with no competition and if my memory serves me correctly wasn't there a UT Watchdog article regarding Ms. Schreiber and this exact same Program Manager? Please vote for change. Barbara Stevens, Candidate GUHSD Board of Trustees
Barbara October 15, 2012 at 04:27 PM
This is exactly why I decided to run for the Grossmont Union High School Board! It's time for board reform in the Grossmont District! We need to start focusing on the real needs the entire student population within our district and not just one community. The board needs to stop using this district for their own personal political gains and start focusing on student education! Ms. Schrieber must have a very short memory, and must have forgotten her own involvement in not only the way money was spent on projects, but her own involvement in terms of actually voting to approve these projects, including the Master Plan which SPECIFICALLY focused efforts on the Performing Arts Center projects. In fact, in a briefing presented to the board in 2009, updating the Master Plan and how it would be moving forward, one of thes specific "Frequently Asked Questions" covering the Prop. H and U Projects (Section 1.08, for those who are reading along) asks: Were there any programs that were given priority and why?" the answer was very clear: Yes - to continue the modernization of the classrooms to build or renovate facilities that will support CTE/VAPA (that's Career Technical Education and Visual and Performing Arts) Programs, and Special Education Clusters and the New Performing Arts Complexes. These programs will have a great impact on students environment and will support the overall education goals of the District."
Bill A. Weaver October 16, 2012 at 06:04 AM
All this is examples of Dr. Gary Woods pandering to Jim Kelly. Vote Woods out of office, he is a political prostitute, running only to gain kudos for a higher office, not to better education!
Bill A. Weaver October 16, 2012 at 06:10 AM
I'm not saying Schreiber is angelic, but as incumbents go, on a scale of 1 (worst) to 10, Schreiber is 8, Woods dead last at only 1, Vote out of office incumbent Woods, he only marches to one tune; Jim Kelly is his Pied Piper!
Bill A. Weaver October 16, 2012 at 06:16 AM
PS; Alpine HS is a money maker... Will recover up to 500 lost students, and likely more new students. Here is the predicted truth of this student gain, HS12 is the ONLY profit center bond project, see http://www.guhsd.net/index.php/component/docman/doc_download/3140-estimated-impactdistrictpoprecovery
greg kerrebrock October 16, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Its time for new blood. Keep Schreiber and boot Woods please. Too bad Kelly and Hoy are not up for reelection because we could actually get something done with them out of the way. This election can be a step in the right direction but it will not end the gridlock regarding the Alpine high school.
Kathy November 06, 2012 at 07:35 AM
I couldn't agree more, Barbara. It is way Past Due to clean house. I feel there should even be a Criminal Investigation, I think some of the monies went other places then our schools. I am REALLY HOPING it is NOT swept under the rug AGAIN. Enough is enough and PARENTS NEED and BETTER get involved if they want to make sure there is a school for their children in 10 years. It is UNREASONABLE to expect Children to be transported 15 miles each way, each day to attend school. Are we risking the health and safety of our children driving this far in bad weather? Alpine should of had a school a VERY long time ago. Good Luck Barbara, you have my VOTE.
Barbara November 06, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Thank you, Kathy!
Bill A. Weaver November 06, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Today is it... the last day, VOTE!
Alpine Blossom Valley High November 06, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 PS; Mr Kelly, there are already existing two (2) build an HS12 Mandates... It is by the two GUHSD 55% Passes Prop 39 Bonds; ------- $274 Million Prop H; 62% Yes Mar '04 ------- $417 Million Prop U; 56.7% Yes Nov '08
Alpine Blossom Valley High November 06, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I should have put this in my ballot statement, however 200 words doesn't go very far!
Alpine Blossom Valley High November 06, 2012 at 05:14 PM
PS; Alpine HS is a money maker... Will recover up to 500 lost students, and likely more new students. Here is the predicted truth of this student gain, HS12 is the ONLY profit center bond project, see http://www.guhsd.net/index.php/component/docman/doc_download/3140-estimated-impactdistrictpoprecovery
Bill Weaver November 09, 2012 at 11:43 PM
This GUHSD Board and Administration is a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT! Last night, At the regular monthly second Thursday Bd. meeting, Nov 8th, they voted on 18 recommendations proposed by Superintendent Ralf Swenson in regard to the Bond projects. The 18th Recommendation was to pull plans on the 12th HS, and not continue to fund the project until further action is taken by the Board. Little discussion took place. I spoke, explaining that the Granite Hills HS is now going to have to be modernized for 2,800 students, this makes no good sense, 600 of those students should not be provided accommodations at GHHS, save that money, to put towards the 12th HS... The GUHSD Bd didn't listen, my comments fell on deaf Administration and Gov. Bd. ears. I also reminded them that the Bd. Makeup is likely to soon change, that a vote on this should wait. They ignored me, this Bd is unethical, unprofessional, and even laughable as they disregard good protocol, and best Governing Board practices.

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