Del Mar school board delays purchase decision on Ocean Air modular classrooms

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees held off on purchasing two modular classrooms for overcrowded Ocean Air School at the board’s Feb. 29 meeting due to questions about the cost.

The two classrooms will cost a combined total of $281,845, but trustee Doug Rafner said he recently spoke to a company that could lease the district the portables for a total of $3,000 a year.

“It makes sense to look and see if we’re talking about apples to apples,” said Rafner of the rentals, which could save the district a lot of cost, especially if they’re only going to be temporary to deal with overpopulation.

While the board agreed to wait to review the leasing option, district superintendent Jim Peabody said in his 41-plus years of education, such classrooms are never really temporary.

“There is nothing more permanent in education than a re-locatable classroom,” Peabody said.

Randy Wheaton, Del Mar school district director of maintenance and operations, said the district can’t afford to go much past mid-March to purchase the modulars and go through the Division of State Architects (DSA) to get them in by June, so the board agreed to defer the item to its site visitation meeting in the coming weeks.

The modulars the district is looking to purchase are from Global Modular Inc. Wheaton said they are likely not “apples to apples” in the design to leased portables. He said purchasing the units allows them to match the architecture of the rest of the school, build interior casework (or cabinetry) that would be found in a normal classroom and make any adjustments needed.

Each self-contained modular classroom is 960 square feet, with room for 29 desks and represents the “highest grade of relocatables.”

“It’s very close to the design of the current classrooms of the Ocean Air facility, it’s not a standard 20 by 30 portable,” Wheaton said. “When you get into a leasing situation you’re restricted in what you can and can’t do.”

The money for the purchase is already available through the Community Financing District (CFD). Trustee Comischell Rodriguez said if they have the money, they should make the investment in the children.

“I appreciate trying to save some money for our district, but I ask that we not go cheap for our kids,” Rodriguez said.