High school district considers bond measure this week


By Marsha Sutton

The San Dieguito Union High School District will consider contracts related to placing a general obligation bond on an upcoming ballot, at the district’s Feb. 2 board meeting.

Three items will be presented to SDUHSD trustees Thursday night. All recommended contracts were selected from published Requests for Proposals.

The first item is to award a contract to the Dolinka Group of Irvine for financial advisory services. Dolinka was selected out of seven candidates.

The board report states that the district is recommending that the board approve Dolinka “to provide financial advisory services related to placing the GO bond measure on the June 5, 2012 or November 6, 2012 ballot.” This is Phase 1.

If the GO bond is approved by voters, Dolinka will then provide “financial advisory services regarding the issuance of the bonds” from “the period January 20, 2012 until completion of bond authorizations.” This is Phase 2.

The fee would be $20,000 for Phase 1 and $65,000 for Phase 2. Funding for this is listed as “campaign donations and future bond issues.”

The second item under consideration on Feb. 2 is the award of a contract with De La Rosa & Company. De La Rosa was chosen from four respondents for bond underwriting services “to assist with drafting tax rate statements for election material, coordinating with financial advisor[s] on bond sizing and pricing, preparing all documentation for bond issuance, guiding the district through the rating process, and marketing the bonds for successful sale.”

The district recommends, according to the board packet, that trustees approve the contract with De La Rosa, funded by “future bond issues.”

Both of these items are being presented for action and a vote by trustees.

The third item, submitted for information only and not for action until the next board meeting on Feb. 16, is for the selection of “public information and ballot measure preparation consultant services.”

According to the board report, “staff issued a request for proposals for campaign (information) consulting services on December 13, 2011 in anticipation of placing a Proposition 39 General Obligation bond measure on a future ballot for future financing of related facilities.”

Staff received five responses and narrowed down the search to Oakland-based Tramutola LLC.

According to Tramutola’s Web site, “We have trained a generation of people how to conduct these elections and how to win. We won the first parcel tax measures and the largest bond measures. We’ve guided large and small districts. Over the years we pioneered mail ballot elections, sophisticated polling techniques and developed ballot language that has become standard for the industry.”

SDUHSD selected Tramutola “as the proposed campaign consultant,” states the board report. The work as proposed would be conducted in three phases.

Phase 1, costing the district $44,500, explores providing “preliminary recommendations regarding the feasibility of placing a local school bond measure on the ballot in 2012.”

Phase 2, called Public Information and Ballot Measure Preparation, would cost the district $6,000 per month “if the district opts to place the measure on the November 6, 2012 ballot or $10,000 per month if June 5, 2012 is chosen.”

Phase 3 is Post Election Communications, which would cost the district $12,000 to assist the district in providing “post-election updates on bond-related school projects.”

Tramutola services would be paid for “by future campaign donations.” General fund dollars, the district said, will not be used.

The board report states that “California law prohibits the use of district funds, services, supplies or equipment for the purpose of urging the passage or defeat of any school measure of the district, including school bond measures.”

But SDUHSD trustee John Salazar questioned whether the Tramutola contract, if approved, would inappropriately serve to influence the public to support the expenditure of taxpayer money.

The purpose of the GO bond would be to fund what the district says are much-needed facilities renovations and improvements at SDUHSD’s schools. A plan developed by a Long Range Facilities Task Force recommended upgrades totaling about $400 million, to improve technology and modernize aging campuses. A GO bond would need 55 percent of voter approval.

The Feb. 2 SDUHSD board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters at 710 Encinitas Blvd. in Encinitas.