Community outreach on Del Mar Hills modernization set for early 2021

Del Mar Hills Academy
(Karen Billing)

Community engagement for the Del Mar Hills Academy modernization was expected to begin this fall, however, the Del Mar Union School District’s updated timeline now has it tentatively set for early 2021.

According to Chris Delehanty, the district’s executive director of capital projects, the community input and schematic design process is expected to take four to six months. Construction is anticipated to start in June 2022 with construction “sprints” over two summers, targeting a fall 2023 opening.

Del Mar Hills was built in 1974 and is the second oldest school in the district. Per the district’s facilities master plan, the modernization project seeks to replace the campus’ five portable classroom buildings with permanent buildings, convert the library into an innovation center, re-imagine classroom spaces, reconfigure the front office and make play improvements.

In 2018, the district had proposed closing the Hills and combining both Del Mar schools, however, the plan faced community pushback. As a result, the district pursued the $186 million general obligation bond Prop MM to fund the district’s facilities needs which passed that November.

Prop MM’s first project, the Del Mar Heights School rebuild, was supposed to begin construction this fall but it has been delayed as the district continues to pursue a coastal development permit with the city of San Diego. Save the Field has also filed a lawsuit against the district over the project’s environmental review process—the court date is set for Dec. 22. Heights students are currently attending school at Del Mar Hills and Ocean Air Schools.

The district’s second scheduled Prop MM project, the new school in Pacific Highlands Ranch, is expected to begin construction in January or February of 2021. The project also requires a coastal development permit from the city.