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Grand Jury Probe of Grossmont HS District is Politically Motivated

Jim Kelly: “I welcome being investigated by the Grand Jury or any agency at any time for any action I have ever taken as an elected official.”

To the editor:

I’d like to thank Doug Deane for addressing the Grand Jury investigation, which I briefly mentioned in my editorial. I’d like to respond to Mr. Deane’s comments to bring greater clarity to this issue because I think Doug has some false impressions.

First, I do not believe the investigation is “bogus.”

There certainly is an investigation. I called it a “political trick.” Let me explain.

Priscilla Schreiber and her handful of activists who want the Grossmont [Union High School] District to build a new high school in Alpine have brought this issue to the Grossmont school board and senior administrators countless times during the 10 years I have served on the school board.

We have spent innumerable hours politely listening to them trying to accommodate their concerns. We have spent over $20 million so far buying 90 acres of land in Alpine, paying for environmental impact reports, etc.

Unfortunately, during the last few years enrollment has been dramatically decreasing along with millions of dollars of revenue. While most fair-minded people would acknowledge the current local, state and national economic environment is not conducive to building new $70 million schools, Ms. Schreiber and her cohorts believe the economic and demographic facts are nothing but “excuses.”

Whereas all of the school board members  and senior administrators, except Ms. Schreiber, believe the cost of running the new school will cost the district approximately $1.5 million per year, the small number of activists cite a source or two to conclude that the new school will not cost the district any money or require anymore teacher layoffs.

They are entitled to their sincere opinions. But after many, many hearings and much discussions four-fifths of the board are convinced it is not fiscally prudent to move forward at this time.  

So why do I say that the Grand Jury investigation is a political trick? Because Priscilla Schreiber and Bill Weaver, who are both candidates running for election and re-election to the school board, should be openly campaigning for the new Alpine High School.

That’s the proper way to deal with political issues—elections!

Let the voters of East County decide this issue by voting for candidates who agree with them. But neither Schreiber nor Weaver mentioned this issue in their ballot statements. I wonder why.  

Instead, having failed to convince a majority of the board to agree with them, they anonymously, and cowardly in my opinion, waste the Grand Jury’s time by accusing the school board of mismanaging public money.

If this is all the activists did, that would be one thing. But in order to hurt Dr Gary Woods, who is up for re-election, Priscilla went to the media to publicly declare that there is an investigation—for political purposes.

Mr. Deane said Schreiber could not disclose anything about the investigation because she was called as a witness yet she is the one who broke the story to ECM!    Finally, Mr. Deane concluded his letter by saying that he would not be surprised if other board members were called to appear before the Grand Jury.

I assume he means me because he is responding to my editorial and I am the one who called the manipulation of the Grand Jury a trick.

Perhaps he thinks I should be nervous. Let me be very, very clear to all those who are trying to use every sort of tactic to pressure me to spend taxpayer money inappropriately (and I do not mean Doug Deane).

I WELCOME being investigated by the Grand Jury or any agency at any time for any action I have ever taken as an elected official.

And I have absolute confidence in the three other trustees, who are men of unquestioned integrity. The four of us are not politicians. We are people who have sacrificed for many years to help the families of East County.

While some want us to help the community of Alpine at the expense of the rest of the expense of the entire District of East County I cannot and will not.  

Jim Kelly,
Grossmont school board member  

Editor’s note: Attached is a response by school board candidate Bill Weaver, which was sent to Patch on Friday.

Bill Weaver November 07, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Congratulations to our re-elected GUHSD top vote getting incumbent Priscilla Schreiber, and our very welcome new Board Trustee Jim Stieringer!
Bill A. Weaver November 07, 2012 at 06:23 PM
A MINDFUL POINT OF ORDER: I qoute the Patch, "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. 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.” THE VOTERS HAVE SPOKEN, AGAIN!
Bill Weaver November 09, 2012 at 11:42 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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Alpine Blossom Valley High February 16, 2013 at 05:05 PM
SEE THIS; http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/12th-high-school-proposal-inferred-an-attempt-to-hold-alpine-hostage

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