Read the rest of the Ticking Time Bond investigation. Credit: Jorge Contreras

Vista Del Mar Elementary is the newest school in the San Ysidro School District, and it is a beauty. Perched atop a hill in the aptly named Ocean View Hills — a relatively new suburb in south San Diego — the school boasts a clear view of the ocean and surrounding community.

The school isn’t all looks, either. Vista Del Mar, a kindergarten through third grade school, is one of only two schools in the district whose facilities received an “Exemplary” rating in a recent inspection. Research suggests quality facilities boost student achievement and this school could be a prime example. During the 2012-13 school year, Vista Del Mar students outperformed the district in virtually all academic metrics.

That appears to be an excellent start for a school that opened in 2012 after years of delays and just 10 months of construction. Its final price tag of $23.9 million was under budget. It was paid for at least in part with a $15.6 million bond issued in 2011.

The district won’t have to make any payments on that bond for three decades. But starting in 2041 the district will pay, on average, almost the full cost of Vista Del Mar each year for a decade. By 2050, the San Ysidro School District will have paid out $228.9 million, almost $15 for every $1 the district borrowed. From 2041 to 2050, the district will pay, on average, $22.9 million each year.

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