Poway Unified School District teachers, managers and top administrators all received a 4 percent raise Tuesday night despite concerns Superintendent John Collins’ involvement in pay talks could amount to self-dealing and violate state conflict-of-interest laws.

A majority of the school board also approved the use of bond underwriter Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. for an upcoming Mello-Roos bond sale, and allowed financial adviser Dolinka Group to advise on the deal. The district’s use of both consultant firms was voted down in September for the firms’ work on the district’s $100 million capital appreciation bond sale in 2011 that will cost taxpayers $1 billion to repay over 40 years.

State law lets cities, counties or school districts create Mello-Roos Community Facility Districts to raise money through a special tax with voter approval. It’s often used in newer housing developments and the money goes to pay for public works projects or public services.

The district is still waiting for a legal opinion about whether Dolinka’s various roles advising and profiting from the Mello-Roos program constitute an illegal conflict of interest. The opinion has cost the district $15,689 so far.

Ashly McGlone

More School News

This week, the Escondido Union School District was unable to negotiate away from two tough subjects ‒ a restraining order against one of its own trustees, and tense interactions with the teachers union.

Trustee Jose Fragozo and EUSD failed to reach an agreement that would lift a temporary restraining order the district filed against Fragozo. The Union-Tribune’s Pat Maio reported that they considered a “cooling off period,” but Fragozo said the school district kept adding stipulations, until negotiations fell apart.

The temporary restraining order will go back before a judge, and in the meantime Fragozo attends the meetings remotely from his living room and a San Marcos strip-mall.

Amid negotiations with the teachers union, union leaders planned to picket outside the trustees’ houses, which drew a response from a trustee’s husband.

Allen Pope, the husband of board President Tina Pope said in a letter to the union, that the protest would be “a personal attack on me and my family in which I guarantee you will not like my response,” according to the Union-Tribune.

• The San Dieguito Union High School District approved raises for teachers and district administrators ‒ 12.5 percent increases over two years ‒  although two trustees were not pleased that the district’s superintendent sought the raise for himself. (Seaside Courier)

• The superintendents of Ramona and Carlsbad are set to retire (Union-Tribune).

Fishy Findings

VOSD’s Ry Rivard has the story of an experimental fish farm in Carlsbad that was meant to restore the ocean’s white seabass population, and has spawned fish with all sorts of deformities ‒ like bad hearts, deformed jaws and even horns.

Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, which runs the hatchery in the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, is planning to open a much larger farm for yellowfin, about five miles offshore. A state audit of the Carlsbad program says it’s unclear if the farm has had any effect on the white seabass population.

A senior fish pathologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Hubbs has been burying important facts about the program “under a mountain of bullshit.”

At Least Oceanside Has a History of Tattooing

Oceanside will consider a pilot program on Jan. 20 to reduce a stretch of Coast Highway (Highway 101) to two lanes, and add bicycle lanes.

Similar plans existed in 2013, but never received funding and were removed from the city’s capital improvement budget. The death of an Oceanside boy has sparked new interest in bike infrastructure along Coast Highway.

The pilot study would add eight-foot buffered lanes on each side of the road, and monitor traffic through equipment that (anonymously) tracks travel by detecting Bluetooth devices in a car.

Oceanside also recently requested bids to complete required environmental documents to update the city’s master transportation document, under which Coast Highway would be two lanes all through town.

On Wednesday night, we’ll find out if Osiders are as colorful as Coronado residents with their metaphors, where bike lanes were described as being “very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed.”

Also in the News

• Pretty pictures have emerged for a potential concert venue at Del Mar Fairgrounds, and in proposals for a development at the train station in Solana Beach. (Coast News)

• This year’s El Niño is proving difficult ‒ and expensive ‒ for construction in the county. (Union-Tribune)

• Only one of six mobile home parks in San Marcos has been able to work out a long-term lease deal with its residents. San Marcos, like other North County cities, has ordinances that protect homeowners in the park by requiring the city to mediate lease disputes. Mobile home parks often provide a large portion of cities’ affordable housing stock in North County. (Union-Tribune)

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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