Search for district office continues

Del Mar Union School District needs new home by December 2011

The Del Mar Union School District’s real estate agents continue what they call a challenging search for a new district office this week.

Trustee Doug Perkins said he expected to hear the agents come to the board’s Nov. 19 meeting with potential options. But Realtors Chuck Wasker and Mark Kagan said they were unsure about the board’s commitment level toward purchasing a building.

The Realtors said they want to bring a “sincere intent” to buy when they meet property owners. President Katherine White reiterated the board’s interest in pursuing a new office within their financial constraints and directed the pair of Realtors to come back on Dec. 9 with some options.

The district has $8.5 million, money from the sale of the Del Mar Shores property, available for an office within the district boundaries. Wasker said these requirements have made the search a challenge.

He said one property on El Camino Real looked like a possibility, but came with a $12 million price tag.

The district has until December 2011 to be out of the Shores property to ensure that all departments can continue to function, district maintenance supervisor Randy Wheaton said. The previous timeline gave the district until January 2011, moved up from the original May 15, 2011, deadline.

“Timing is most critical,” Kagan said.

The search for a new district office is happening concurrently with the 7/11 committee’s process of studying surplus space within the district. The 7/11 committee recently reported that it will not make its Dec. 9 deadline, but White said they could hold a special meeting in December to hear the 7/11 committee’s recommendation.

Ocean Air parent Renee Kalt said she supports the 7-11 committee’s proposal to merge Del Mar Hills and Del Mar Heights and reconfigure the Hills campus to house the district office.

She said the option made sense as it allows the district to save on the cost of operating a school as well as save the $8.5 million for improvements on other schools such as Carmel Del Mar, which she said will be up for renovation in 2018.

“You have the opportunity to leave a legacy of fiscal responsibility,” Kalt told the board.

Others spoke out against the idea of any school closure, including Del Mar Hills fifth-grader Samantha Ho.

“Del Mar Hills is a phenomenal school, and no matter how bad the economy is, you shouldn’t close it,” Samantha said.

She said she likes that her school is smaller and that her face would be “crestfallen” if she learned that her school was closing.

“I would put a fat ‘X’ next to keep Del Mar Hills alive if I had a vote,” Samantha said.

7-11 meeting

5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Del Mar Hills. Final plans for reconfiguration recommendation to be selected.