Fears about possible closure permeate 'chat'
Many Del Mar Hills Academy parents are collectively holding their breath and keeping their pocketbooks closed as they await the Del Mar Union School District's decision about reconfiguring a school site. A decision that could end with a school closing and the Hills appears to be a top candidate.
The parents reiterated their concern last Tuesday at the Hills Happening Chat with Principal Susan Fitzpatrick and Superintendent Sharon McClain.
Del Mar Schools Education Foundation president Chris Stevenson visited the chat to request donations to the fund. But parents were reluctant to give, fearing they could take a double hit from the district by donating to the foundation then being asked to bear the brunt of the district's financial worries by seeing their school close.
"We believe that all budget cuts should be fairly distributed among all the stakeholders and not just burden one community. 'Fair share' is the terminology used by the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation and we believe all cuts should be 'fair share,' " said parent Beth Westberg. "School closure should be the last cut. It is absurd and unconscionable that school closure is considered as the first cut."
Representatives from the foundation have visited all the district's campuses to boost fundraising. Stevenson said Ashley Falls had been down 25 percent in fundraising three weeks ago but is up 13 percent now.
Del Mar Hills is down 33 percent.
McClain reminded the parents that closing Del Mar Hills is just one of the 7-11 committee's nine options and they have yet to make their official recommendation to the school board, who will have the final say.
The parents were not easily reassured, saying that it is draining and exhausting to worry about their school closing, something that has come up for several years.
Fitzpatrick said the Hills staff is working to keep their campus atmosphere positive.
"We continue to be very protective of our kids," she said. "They have enough to worry about in their lives at recess."
Parent Mara Bickett pointed out that while the 7/11 Committee is to make their recommendation to the Board of Trustees on Dec. 9, the board has no timeline for when they make their decision — which could mean more months of uncertainty.
"The board owes it to us to make a good, thoughtful decision as quickly as possible," Bickett said.