Sweetwater Union High School District rejects $12M loan offer

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The Sweetwater Union High School District rejected a $12 million loan Monday night that would have helped pay off its debt.

Board members unanimously rejected the loan offer by the San Diego County Office of Education. The money would have gone toward paying off funds the district borrowed from the Community Facilities District Fund, also known as the Mello-Roos fund. The school district says it still has a plan to pay off the debt by June 2020.

Monday night’s school board meeting also saw emotions run high during the public hearing portion, which lasted nearly an hour. Parents, students, and teachers criticized board members for the district’s financial handlings and recent budget cuts that saw bus routes removed for students in San Ysidro.

“This is not right, it’s not fair,” said one father. “When I’m thousands of miles away and I have to worry about my kid walking to school that’s on you.”

Others called out the financial state of the school district and its habit of borrowing from the Mello-Roos fund.

“In all honesty, it does not take a mathematician to have known that the district was headed for disaster,” said one woman. “And my question to the county is, why wasn’t it picked up by your staff?”

Superintendent Dr. Karen Janney promised the district will no longer borrow from the Mello-Roos fund. She also slammed the San Diego County Office of Education for making its criticisms of the district public.

“The statements in the letter from SDCOE, we believe, were made to convince our staff and community that our adopted budget is deliberately not telling the truth about our fiscal reality simply because San Diego County Office of Education does not agree with our solutions nor our projections,” Janney said.

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