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Poway Parents Want Answers About Their Mello-Roos-Funded Schools

— Angry parents in the Poway Unified School District confronted district officials about their Mello-Roos taxes at a school board meeting Monday night. They wanted to know why their kids weren’t able to attend the newer schools in their neighborhood.

Aired 8/20/13 on KPBS News.

Parents who pay extra property taxes called Mello-Roos question whether they are getting the new schools they thought they were paying for.

“I’m paying into Willow Grove (Elementary). My child should be allowed to go that public school,” Jenny Duncan said.

Duncan was the first of several parents to speak to school board members and the superintendent.

She is one of 55 families told in May there isn't room for their kindergarten children at the newer school in their neighborhood, an upscale new development called Santaluz. Instead, many of them will have to travel miles away to go to a much older school.

The parents say they’ve been paying thousands of dollars in extra property taxes called Mello-Roos because they thought they were getting new schools.

Earlier this week an inewsource investigation revealed millions of surplus Mello-Roos taxes are collected and spent throughout the district, including in non-Mello-Roos schools. But the district made a decision not to spend $100,000 on portable classrooms to make room for the displaced Willow Grove students.

Superintendent John Collins says the district could bring in the extra classrooms but they won’t be ready for use until January. And he told parents paying Mello-Roos taxes does not guarantee their kids will have a seat in their neighborhood school.

Other parents in the neighborhood also questioned district officials about why a new middle school wasn't built in the area as initially planned.

Collins said the district doesn't have the money to build the middle school.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | August 20, 2013 at 7:32 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

another corrupt school board?

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | August 20, 2013 at 9:33 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Where's the accountability? Sounds like those homeowners got ripped off!

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Avatar for user 'powaymom'

powaymom | August 21, 2013 at 1:02 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Willow Grove parents should also check to see how many children are allowed to place an inter-district transfer and attend Willow Grove when they don't live in the schools boundaries......

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Avatar for user 'Earl_Lee'

Earl_Lee | September 4, 2013 at 7:16 a.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

I posted on several comment sections on this Mello Roos tax issue for KPBS. I've mentioned several times there needs to be more oversight, transparency and accountability for what Mello Roos funds can and can't be used for.

I do believe in the general importance of why Mello Roos funds need to be collected. However, I believe they have gotten beyond what their intended purpose was and this article shows at least in several cases that the funds are NOT being used for things essential to what they are being collected for.

It shouldn't be difficult to get a spreadsheet showing all funds collected and all funds paid out breaking down specifically where those funds are going and what it's being used for. Also, what entities/persons are authorized to write checks or spend money with our Mello Roos funds?

Is there a system of checks and balances? How many people need to sign off on it?

I had the good fortune that both my kids got in at Willow Grove. I do know people from the 55 person list that didn't get in and I think it's a travesty. Especially those that live a few blocks from the school. I don't think the selection process is all that fair. I've met some parents that live on the other side of I-56 that got in over some that live right in Santaluz or the immediate area.

Me personally don't have to worry about my kids for the next 5 years but I still feel for the parents that live in the area, have been paying Mello Roos taxes and have to send their kids to schools miles away.

But it's very disturbing to read about our Mello Roos funds being spent on things they were NOT intended for.

Also, I still haven't seen any articles that address the possibility that these Mello Roos taxes will be extended beyond their original pay off dates.

I agree with Powaymom about seeing what the policies and procedures are about the priority list. Last year when I inquired they actually told me that teacher's kids actually had priority over parents that lived in the area and pay taxes. This year they said that has changed however I know that there are many teachers that send their kids to Willow Grove that don't live in the PUSD designated district.

I don't think it's fair that they would be able to take up a spot vs. a taxpayer that lives in this area and paying Mello Roos taxes. So I think this needs to also be looked at in future years.

Also, if a kid got in to Willow Grove and doesn't live in the area it sounds like they are guaranteed to finish out at Willow Grove, which I do agree makes sense. However, one of the other criteria list is siblings. So I'm not sure if these kids that don't live in the immediate area automatically get their siblings get to go to Willow Grove. If so, that isn't fair if it's preventing a spot from a Mello Roos taxpayer.

I think parents that didn't get in should look at this for future years.

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