February 1996

The school board adopts a Master Facilities Plan, based on projections for future growth and district needs assessments. Among recommendations: a new middle school. A site selection committee is formed. This document is supposed to undergo an annual review, which it has never had. In the intervening seven years, growth trends and projections have changed considerably.

June 1996

More than 75 percent of Coastside residents vote in favor of and easily pass CUSD's proposed Measure K, a $35 million bond measure to support new middle school construction and other CUSD facilities upgrades. It has been argued that this bond money can only be used to build a new middle school on a NEW site. Not true, according to a nationally recognized bond counsel's pro bono opinion. Read this legal analysis.

May 1997

CUSD enters a deal with Wavecrest Partners and Pepper Lane Properties to swap approximately 20 acres of school district-owned land in El Granada valued at $1.7 million for the purchase of a 25-acre middle school site valued at $2.7 (this site has since been relocated and reduced in size as a result of flawed environmental analysis.)

June 1997

CUSD attorney commissions an appraisal on the district's El Granada property. No appraisal was done on the North Wavecrest site. According to a subsequent Grand Jury investigation into the CUSD deal, the North Wavecrest valuation was determined by information provided by Coastside realtors. The School District later claimed in Grand Jury testimony that it was unaware that within two years prior to the agreement Wavecrest Partners had purchased 17.364 of the 25-acre North Wavecrest site for $909,000, or approximately $52,350 per acre, less than half the acreage price used for the $2.7 million valuation in the agreement for North Wavecrest.

September 1998

Contracts between CUSD board of trustees and Wavecrest are executed. Under this agreement, CUSD is obligated to pay Wavecrest Partners a development fee of $255,000 in semi-annual installments during the two years following the closing date.

October 1998

San Mateo County Grand Jury begins first of two investigations into irregularities related to the land swap deal. Following CUSD's refusal to explain who had provided the information used in reaching the real estate valuations used in the transactions, subpoenas were issued. The Grand Jury eventually learned an initial appraisal of the El Granada property found it to be valued at $4.4 million. According to testimony, the CUSD board felt that this appraisal was incorrect in assuming an adequate volume of sewer and water entitlements would be available for sale to satisfy the proposed developments. The appraiser was not asked to reevaluate the site assuming the unavailability of entitlements.

January 1999

San Mateo County Grand Jury releases final report on CUSD's land swap deal, finding several significant issues and making recommendations accordingly. Click here for the final Grand Jury report.

November 1999

Parcel Tax I, a four-year commitment of $125 per year, fails to pass.

December 2001

California Coastal Commission finds substantial issue with the Wavecrest project and votes to postpone approval.

March 2002

Parcel Tax II, a three-year commitment of $75 per year, fails to pass.

May 2002

After more than three years of delays, CUSD President Ken Jones and other board members call a public hearing to discuss the middle school dilemma. Superintendent John Bayless presents the School Board and public with an exhaustive slide show detailing all available middle school site options and concludes by making an extremely strong case for modernizing/improving/expanding the middle school at its current Cunha site. He explains all the pros of going with this option and also outlines a strategy for phasing in the project over three years with the project able to begin nearly immediately. Superintendent Bayless's full presentation may be viewed by clicking here.

June 6, 2002

School Board holds another public hearing for community feed-back on the middle school issue. A sizable group of parents and concerned citizens speak on behalf of the Cunha site as a viable and desirable alternative. They are dismissed (and in some cases publicly denigrated) as "eco-terrorists" and a small "fringe" group.

June 20, 2002

A week later, parents return to speak before the school board, this time bearing the names of 1,350 Coastside residents collected in five days outside of Safeway. The petition urges CUSD to consider placing the new middle school at Cunha rather investing any further in the long-delayed Wavecrest plan. Once again, this alternative is dismissed without further deliberation. All five school board members vote to continue their commitment to Wavecrest. The seeds of the "Build It Now Initiative" are sown.

November 2002

Coastal Commission declines to consider approval for Wavecrest, citing still incomplete biological analysis.

January 2003

A Joint City Council-CUSD town hall meeting is held specifically on the middle school site issue. President Ken Jones and member Dwight Wilson, representatives to the joint city-CUSD committee, do not attend the meeting. All five members of City Council are in attendance. CUSD sends no official representatives.

March 2003

Joint City Council-CUSD School Board exploration of viable middle school sites determines that there are only two such sites: Cunha and Wavecrest. City Councilors Toni Taylor and Jim Grady recommend Cunha as community's best option (to see a full PowerPoint presentation addressing the Cunha site option and arguments that have been made against it, see: click here). CUSD school board members vote to table the discussion.

March 2003

Parcel Tax III, a five-year commitment of $250 per year, does not pass. Less than a week later, the school board votes to reintroduce exactly the same parcel tax, without any adjustment or reconsideration, in a special June election at a cost of $50,000.

April 2003

A mystery donor gives the district $50,000 to mount the Parcel Tax IV election. After the district refuses to provide the public with access to the donor's identity, both the San Mateo County District Attorney and the California Fair Political Practices Commission investigate.

June 2003

Parcel Tax IV, again a five-year commitment of $250 per year, fails to pass.