With board President Jim Kelly abruptly ending debate, the Grossmont Union High School District board on Wednesday voted down member Jim Stieringer’s plan to submit designs to the state for an Alpine high school.
By a 4-1 vote—with recently elected member Stieringer the lone “yes”—the board rejected a conditioned effort to make progress toward the long-sought “12th high school.”
In introducing his resolution, Stieringer said: “Regardless of the outcome of this vote … in my opinion a 12th high school will be built. … The board has spent a lot of money buying land.”
The resolution hinged on the idea that the district would submit plans to the Division of the State Architect “once it is determined that the Alpine School District unification plan is either abandoned or fails to achieve voter approval.”
Stieringer denied that he was trying to influence Alpine residents.
“That’s not true,” he said. “I believe that’s a decision to be made by the residents of that community. However, my feeling is that this board should not be spending $65 million to build a high school [on behalf of] a unified Alpine elementary district.”
Board member Dick Hoy argued that current plans, which call for a school with a population of 500 or 600 students, would “not be doing right by Alpine.”
“If I were an Alpinian,” Hoy said, “I would say: ‘Wait a minute. I don’t want you to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars to design a school that we may not want.’”
Hoy said Alpine residents a couple years ago indicated they wanted a school “that has everything. They wanted a high school of about 1,600 [students].”
But Hoy doubted Alpine and Blossom Valley have the population to support that size of campus, saying: “I think we’re jumping the gun here.”
Acknowledging that he voted to set aside $65 million for the Alpine campus, Hoy said: “I’m not sure this resolution does anything but tie the board’s hands in setting up some plans that we ultimately may never use.”
Board member Priscilla Schreiber, a longtime advocate of an Alpine high school, wanted to know whether Alpine residents approved of current plans for a smaller campus.
In addition, Schreiber asked: “What community members or group are you going to get to say [that they’re dropping unification plans]?”
She noted that the district once submitted plans to the state, “but they got pulled.”
The district might have built one section of campus by now, Schreiber said of the school promised by voter-approved Proposition U.
But she argued that barriers exist to building the school even if plans were submitted to the state—and years of possible delays.
“I don’t know that Alpine is going to drop unification efforts based on [the district] resubmitting the plans,” she said.
But before she could get an answer from Stieringer on who in Alpine would have the authority to signal an end to their school unification drive, board president Kelly moved to end debate.
This exchange ensued:
Kelly: Is there any more questions or comments?
Schreiber: That was a question to Mr. Stieringer.
Kelly: Being that everyone has spoken, I call for the question. Please vote.
Schreiber: But wait! Is [Stieringer] going to answer the question? I asked him a question about his resolution.
Kelly: Mrs. Schreiber, before you speak, make sure you’re recognized. … Being that no one else wants to speak, I call for the question. Please vote.
Schreiber: Did you even call on [Stieringer] to answer my question, Jim?
Kelly: Please vote.
Seconds later, the digital signboard showed results: four “no” votes and one “yes.”
After the meeting, Stieringer was philosophical.
“I’ve been defeated many times,” said the former Grossmont Healthcare District director. “Defeat is temporary. Giving up makes it permanent.”
He said the issue would be raised again—“if not by me, than by others.”