A recent Reader article dealt with a long-stalled-plan to renovate the historic Teachers Training Annex #1 at 4100 Normal Street, turning it into a public library. The empty and deteriorating building is owned by the San Diego Unified School District.
While gathering background information from the University Heights Library Task Force, the Reader received a copy of a letter sent on May 4, 2010, to District 3 councilmember Todd Gloria by Ronald V. Johnston, chair of that task force.
In part of that two-page letter, Johnston stated: “The School Board gave unanimous support, with a 5-0 vote, in support of the project and its joint-use goal, but this was a 'closed session' and there is no official, written documentation of that outcome. Without that documentation, in the form of an [letter of intent], we cannot, in my opinion, set up a bank account, under a non-profit umbrella, for the collection of funds for the project, and when pressed for such a memorandum, the School Board, properly, points to the City.”
The confirmation of that closed session and vote have been obtained through a February 26 California Public Records Act request to the district. The school district provided information from “Closed Session Meeting Notes” of January 26, 2010. Besides the board, the meeting was attended by “District negotiators” Bill Kowba (interim superintendent), Jim Watts, and Stu Markey.
It states that “All board members agree to a letter of support, with no District funding commitments being provided, to explore the potential joint-use of the historic Annex 1 building as a library site in order for the University Heights Library Task Force to begin fundraising efforts.”
It further states: “In open (public) session, General Counsel Mark Breese did not report out any actions taken in the January 26, 2010 closed meeting session.”
The district provided no explanation why the vote on the “potential joint-use” project had to be done at a closed session. The board, including board chair Kevin Beiser, did not respond to a previous request in February for comment on the issue.