Facilities needs discussed at Del Mar school district outreach group meeting

By Karen Billing

A lack of shade, parking lot bottlenecks, collaboration spaces being used for storage, and pesky wood chips on playgrounds were among some of the problem issues at Del Mar Union School District campuses expressed at the Oct. 1 meeting of the district’s outreach group.

Group members were meeting for the second time in their efforts to help the district prepare a Facilities Master Plan and they were able to get specific about each of the eight school sites’ needs and wishes.

An additional meeting was added to the group’s schedule on Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. at Del Mar Hills Academy, focusing on demographics, enrollment projections and funding challenges in addressing the master plan. The meeting will precede the town hall meeting open to all community members on Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Del Mar Hills Academy.

School site representatives were grouped together at the meeting and asked to come up with ways they could improve educational adequacy, building conditions, as well as potential safety and health issues on campus. The goal, as the district prepares the master plan, is for all facilities to be flexible, collaborative, connected and student- centered, said Kate Mraw, an interior designer with LPA Architects, the district’s facilitator in the master plan process.

Don Pender, of LPA, and his team toured all of the district campuses and gathered impressions of each school’s conditions.

“In some districts we see a lot of variety and inequity between sites. I don’t see that in your schools at all,” Pender said. “Obviously, the district thought a lot about what amenities need to be at each school.”

Pender graded schools by their conditions: Ashley Falls, Sage Canyon, Sycamore Ridge and Ocean Air (all built between 1998 and 2007) were graded “A” schools.

Torrey Hills, built in 2002, was graded a “B,” Del Mar Hills and Del Mar Heights, built between 1958 and 1975, were graded “C” and Carmel Del Mar, built in 1991, was considered the most in need of modernization and graded a “D.”

Pender stressed that although some campuses are older and need improvements, they are all very well maintained.

Of the four schools graded an “A,” Pender said there are strengths in the point of entry, flexible learning spaces, indoor/outdoor connections, and ease of access to the library. Places where they could improve are parent interaction spaces, covered lunch areas and flexible furnishings.

Pender said Carmel Del Mar has severe HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system problems, lacks collaborative spaces, way-finding is difficult on the campus, the administrative office space is restrictive, and the library is constrained.

“Carmel Del Mar is 21 years old now and we need some love,” said Principal Eileen Delaney.

Randy Wheaton, director of maintenance and operations, said that CDM was built without air conditioning and the HVAC was a retrofit. In addition to a new HVAC, Wheaton said the roof needs to be addressed, as well as the lighting and electrical system, carpeting and flooring.

“The MUR is also where we park our golf cart,” said Delaney. “It’s not an operating MUR.”

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