The Cambrian

Report: Cayucos transfer would hit Coast Union

Cayucos parents who want their kids to attend high school in San Luis Coastal School District instead of in Cambria may have their goal hampered by the financial consequences for Coast Unified School District if the students left.

A 45-page report, compiled by consultant The Smith Group, determined that the change would significantly disrupt the educational offerings at Cambria’s Coast Unified School District.

The findings were presented Sept. 19 to the County Committee of School District Organization, a county-wide appointed panel that will decide whether the parent petition makes it to the ballot. That decision will not be made until Oct. 10.

Nine criteria must be met before such a territory transfer can be approved. Three of the criteria defined by the State Board of Education dealing with the impacts of the proposed transfer were not met, according to the consultant’s report.

All three dealt with the financial hit — including an estimated $1.2 million loss of property tax revenue — that Coast Unified would suffer if those students were instead enrolled in San Luis Coastal.

Cambria residents would also assume full responsibility to repay a 1998 bond measure now shared with Cayucos residents.

For more than 80 years, Cayucos high schoolers have been part of Coast Unified School District, based in Cambria, and have attended Coast Union High School.

However, families who have petitioned for the territory transfer say the effect on their families, such as costs in time and gasoline to travel 14 miles each way on school days, and ties to sports and other extracurricular programs in Morro Bay outweigh those impacts.

The County Committee of School District Organization can choose to override the consultant’s findings and approve the petition. If approved, it would likely be on the ballot in 2014.

The committee must also decide who would be allowed to vote on the issue. The cost of that election could range from $4,600 to $87,000 depending on how many of the three affected districts — San Luis Coastal, Coast Unified and Cayucos Elementary School District—would be included in the vote. The school districts would be responsible for the cost of the election.

San Luis Coastal officials say they already bear the cost of many Cayucos high schoolers who attend Morro Bay High School through transfer requests, by listing false addresses or by moving into the district.

Administrators of both districts are discussing a backup plan, should the petition not go to a vote, to make the current arrangement more financially equitable and make transferring from one district to another easier for families.