Del Mar district projecting highest growth within five years, say officials

New homes along Carmel Valley Road in Pacific Highlands Ranch.
(Karen Billing)

The Del Mar Union School District will be bigger than it ever has been within the next five years.

At the April 22 board meeting, Jason Romero, assistant superintendent of human resources, is projecting the district will be just under 5,000 students in 2020-21 as a result of all of the new housing development in Pacific Highlands Ranch area. District enrollment is at 4,464 students now.

In Pacific Highlands Ranch, 550 total homes will be built in Pardee Homes’ Casabella, Verana and Canterra developments, and the district will start to see students in 2016-17, a boost to Ashley Falls’ small population and increased growth at Sycamore Ridge.

This year, Ashley Falls’ population was 403 students; by 2018-19, it is expected to be 583, and will grow to 689 students in 2020-21.

Sycamore Ridge is expected to grow from 502 students this year to 642 in 2018-19.

At Del Mar Heights School, Romero said officials are anticipating a little growth in that area because of turnover rates. At Del Mar Heights, they are projecting a six-year increase of almost 150 students; neighboring Del Mar Hills will see a small uptick but remain consistent with 330 students projected next year.

The district is experiencing some aging out of Carmel Valley homes, which will result in an enrollment decline at Ocean Air and Sage Canyon and an enrollment plateau at Torrey Hills.

“Ocean Air is where we will experience the most significant decline over the next six years; we’re not seeing homes turn over,” Romero said. “Families are staying in their homes for a long time and in doing so, we will recognize a decline in enrollment.”

From 786 students in 2014-15, the school is expected to shrink to 655 students by 2020-21.

Sage Canyon will be a little more in flux, because of new developments like Alta Del Mar. The school’s enrollment is expected to dip from 698 this year to 656 in 2015-16 and then increase to 723 students by 2016-17.

As far as enrollment trends, Romero said they are seeing a change in the district’s youngest cohort. Kindergarten classes, historically around 500 students, saw a spike two years ago with 563 students, and last year there were 541. This year will be the smallest kindergarten class in almost a decade with 490 students.

Even with enrollment increases, the district continues to stress the importance of low class sizes, Romero said. The average class size in the district this year is 21.3:1 in transitional kindergarten through third grade and 25.7:1 in grades four through six. Romero said they anticipate similar numbers next year.