Del Mar district looks to approve new facilities master plan

The Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) board will soon approve a new facilities master plan, a vision of how the district’s eight schools need to physically change to align with the district’s Design 2022 strategic plan and reflect its new mission: “the unrelenting pursuit of an extraordinary school experience.” In March, the district hired OBR Architecture to refresh the existing master plan to reflect the district’s new educational goals.

Once complete, the revised document will include capacity and facility needs, along with a cost analysis. Garrick Oliver and Anney Rosenthal Hall of OBR Architecture, presented the first pieces of the plan to the DMUSD board on Aug. 30 — the board members will hold a public workshop in September and they are expected to approve the completed document at the Sept. 27 board meeting.

The current facilities master plan was developed in 2014 and has helped guide an estimated $6 million in work district-wide.

While the district has completed several improvement projects over the last four years, district leadership has also dedicated time researching and analyzing the future of student needs that the world demands.

“(District leadership) has realized that the current facilities modernization approach is not in line with the future needs of educational practices and experiences. Facilities must be re-envisioned to provide students with a safe, healthy and technologically-advanced learning environment,” said Rosenthal-Hall. “The intent is that we must make this change, this is our charge, this is a moral imperative and it’s our unrelenting pursuit.”

At the meeting, the architects presented some prototypes and floorplans for modern learning studios and innovation centers. For the modern learning studios, the architects envision indoor/outdoor space and transforming the traditional classroom layout of the teacher in the front of the class with flexible furnishings, mobile teaching stations and break-out space for student collaboration or small group instruction.

For the innovation centers (formerly the school libraries), they are looking at an open layout that is connected to the campus entry and administrative offices with break-out spaces for art, technology and science. They envision varied seating spaces, open discovery spaces, writable wall surfaces and an “idea box” for students to work independently.

Oliver said that the prototypes are the “best case scenario” — when they get into each campus’ details they will work to get as many of the ideas from the prototype into the existing facility.

As stated in the past, the district has “significant” facilities needs, particularly at its oldest schools: 58-year-old Del Mar Heights and 42-year-old Del Mar Hills. Other needed renovations across the district include replacing aging portable buildings with permanent classrooms and upgrades to infrastructure such as technology and plumbing.