Del Mar school district seeking solutions to fund $40M in project work at campuses

The Del Mar Union School District developed a facilities master plan in 2014, a comprehensive list of projects to support and complement the district’s educational goals. As reported at the May 27 school board meeting, the district might need some significant financial help to meet all of those goals.

According to Assistant Superintendent Cathy Birks, the district has identified the most pressing priorities at each school campus for the next five years — a total of $40 million worth of projects, most of which are unfunded at this time.

Only $8.2 million is available to complete priority projects.

“There are projects on the list that are very essential, and we need to face the brutal fact that we do not have the funding to do things like reconfigure kindergarten classrooms and replace 25-year-old portables,” Superintendent Holly McClurg said.

McClurg said they could find some money in the general fund and work with the community to fund some things, but not the $40 million that is required to meet all of the facilities’ needs.

Each school site has a facilities master plan, and priority projects were established at each site. Carmel Del Mar, Del Mar Heights and Del Mar Hills have the most needs, with projects totaling $10.2 million, $7.6 million and $6.7 million, respectively. Most of the work is modernization upgrades for the district’s oldest campuses; the goal at Hills and Heights is to replace the aging portables that have been on campus for years with permanent buildings.

This summer, $1.8 million of upgrades will be completed at Carmel Del Mar. The district will add shade structures, replace skylights and replace the aging heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

To help complete the work, the district is using $650,000 from Prop. 39 funding, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Board member Erica Halpern said that the district needs to explore opportunities to do the least-expensive, highest-impact projects. She asked the district staff to come back with some alternative options to address the funding shortfall.

President Doug Rafner said that they might need to consider solutions like going out for a general obligation bond.


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