Del Mar Union School District’s search for new office continues

As the Del Mar Union School District’s May 2011 deadline to be out of the Shores property is inching closer, board member Comischell Rodriguez expressed her frustration that the board has appeared to stall in its search for a new home for its district office.

“I’m concerned about our lack of progress,” Rodriguez said at the June 9 meeting. “We have buildings available that fit our criteria and our budget, and it begs the question if my fellow board members genuinely feel we have a need to purchase a district office.”

Trustee Katherine White disagreed, saying that the property issue has been on the closed session agendas for the last few months and they are moving forward.

“A lot of progress is happening as we negotiate and look at properties,” White said.

Trustee Doug Perkins said he doesn’t think they have spent too much time on their search as he wants to find the best possible home for DMUSD, something that will last long after he has left the board.

When property options were presented at a Feb. 24 special meeting, Rodriguez optimistically stated that they could start making offers by March.

It is now late June and last month rent at the Shores went from $1 a year to $30,000 a year, coming out of the district’s general fund. A request to the Del Mar City Council to extend the school district’s lease at the Shores tentatively through August 2012 has not yet been approved.

Perkins said he is a strong proponent of extending the lease while they continue to search.

On the closed session agendas, three options remain for the district office: a two-building complex on Sorrento Valley Road, one building on Sorrento Valley Boulevard and an empty lot on Jimmy Durante Boulevard in Del Mar.

All of the possible locations have their pluses and minuses, Perkins said.

Prices have not been disclosed, but they are all said to be within the $8.5 million available from the sale of the Shores property.

The buildings under the freeway on Sorrento Valley Road are not fully built out so additional funds would have to be used to do tenant improvements.

Neighboring Poway Unified School District is moving into its new 54,460-square-foot district office on July 1. That district bought the building for $9.5 million in November 2009, not including the required tenant improvements. Renovation costs doubled from the district’s November estimate, from $4 million to nearly $7.8 million, as reported by this newspaper’s sister newspaper, the Rancho Bernardo News Journal.

The Sorrento Valley Boulevard facility the district is looking at would require very little, if any, tenant improvements as it is already fully built out. It is a two-story, 20,000- square-foot building that includes a large open space on the second floor that could be used for meetings.

The last option is the 2.3-acre slice of land in Del Mar. The landowner already has plans for a building approved and the district could opt to make the building smaller. It would take about 18 months to construct the building, which would require an extension on the Shores lease with the city or the district would risk being homeless.

The board no longer has the option to co-locate the district office at one of its eight school campuses as they officially took that option off the table at its May 5 meeting.