Guys, how’s it coming on that property thing?

By Kate Takahashi

DMUSD parent

It’s spring — May to be exact — and schools in Del Mar are buzzing with field trips, school plays and end-of-year parties. PTAs are balancing their budgets, organizing thank-you dinners, deciding their slate for next year. Principals have just completed the unfortunate task of deciding how to slice and dice their shrunken ESC programs, among their hundreds of other duties.

May also has a special significance for the DMUSD Board of Trustees. May of 2010 is when the District Office’s rent on the Shores property increases 30,000-fold. Instead of paying $1 a year, DMUSD will be paying $30,000 a year from its general fund (the same general fund that pays teachers’ salaries) to use the dilapidated office on 9th Street in Del Mar.

There has been plenty of time to find a new office. The Shores property was first considered surplus back in 1988, then again in 2005. Minutes from the Board meeting dated August of 2007 reveal a heads-up from then-Superintendent Tom Bishop that when the Shores escrow closes, the District will have 36 months to vacate the property.

It was no secret that the lease payments would increase from $1 a year to $30,000 a year starting year 3 post-escrow. Members White, Easton, and McDowell were there.

There has been plenty of effort. Next month, Colliers International agents will have spent one year showing DMUSD properties and land. The board members have seen at least 11 properties. If no deal has been made by June, the poor agents will have donated their time free of charge to the decision-masterminds at DMUSD. Trustee Comischell Rodriguez seems to be the lone board member who recognizes the urgency of this issue, as she urged her other colleagues to make a decision at a recent board meeting.

Real estate decisions may perplex this board majority, but other decisions that might prove gut-wrenchingly hard for most humans have been swiftly executed. Trustees White, Easton and McDowell decisively ended Tom Bishop’s career at the DMUSD in 2008, sending him on his way with more than $300,000 of our kids’ general fund money.

More recently, Trustees White, Easton and Perkins had no trouble deciding to fire Dr. Sharon McClain. (Steve McDowell abstained on the vote; he evidently could have gone either way on halting her career.)

Dr. McClain had barely unpacked her belongings in her new office when DMUSD Attorney Dan Shinoff started his expensive wild goose chase, searching for that great material breach of contract that we’ll never hear of.

So the board CAN be decisive about certain things. It’s just all the wrong things. In the meantime, the community wants to know: Guys, how’s it coming on that property thing?