Outreach kicks off on Del Mar Hills modernization project

The entrance of Del Mar Hills Academy will be reimagined in the school's modernization project.
(Karen Billing)

Community engagement has begun on the Del Mar Hills Academy modernization project. The first meeting was held on Zoom on June 3 as the Del Mar Union School District prepares to update its second oldest school, built in 1974.

“We all know Del Mar Hills is such an outstanding school,” said DMUSD Superintendent Holly McClurg. “I’m excited about the bright, exciting future for our kids and the entire community...It’s going to be great, I can hardly wait for it to get started.”

Prior to the passage of the district’s $186 million Measure MM general obligation bond in 2018, the district had proposed closing Del Mar Hills and building one new school in Del Mar. A revised facilities master plan reflected keeping all eight schools and adding the ninth district campus in Pacific Highlands Ranch. Construction began on May 17 on the new Pacific Sky School.

Per the facilities master plan, the Hills modernization project seeks to replace the Mango Drive campus’ five portable classroom buildings with permanent buildings, enhance the innovation center, re-imagine classroom spaces, reconfigure the front office and make playground and field improvements.

Steve Kendrick, a principal for Lionakis architecture firm, said he enjoys getting the community involved as feedback helps shape the design of a school. Lionakis has designed several local schools including Earl Warren and Pacific Trails Middle School, and the Solana Santa Fe School remodel in the Solana Beach School District, which will begin this summer.

Del Mar Hills staff has met with the architects to provide input and the architects also gave a presentation to Hills students. Through an online survey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/FN9ST92), they asked members of the public to weigh in on how to make the school’s entry more welcoming, suggestions for indoor/outdoor connections and what improvements people would like to see on the fields and play areas.

Design ideas that Lionakis has looked at include bringing in more natural daylight to the school’s uniquely shaped classrooms, adding bathrooms to the kindergarten classrooms, and possibly adding a music room to the performing arts center.

A second community meeting will be held in early September, hopefully in person, and a final community meeting will be held in early October before design ideas are presented to the board on Oct. 27.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in summer 2022, targeting a fall 2023 opening.