Del Mar Heights School demo to begin early March

The entry of the Del Mar Heights School.
(Karen Billing)

Delays have caused construction costs to increase by $7 million


The demolition of the 60-year-old Del Mar Heights School campus is anticipated to begin the week of March 7.

Gone will be the school’s 13 portables, replaced with a campus that aims to enhance students’ learning experience as well as improve emergency access and traffic flow on neighborhood streets.

The demolition is anticipated to take four weeks, followed by six weeks of grading. Once the grading is completed, the 11-and-a-half-month construction process would begin, aiming to be completed by May 2023.

Demolition had originally been slated to begin in July 2020 and, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Chris Delehanty, as a result of delays, the district has seen significant cost escalation for the project.

“Inflation is dramatic in some areas of construction,” he said.

At the Feb. 16 board meeting, the Del Mar Union School District board approved a change order for an additional $2.1 million for the Heights rebuild, on top of the additional $5 million price escalation last fall. The total revised contract amount with Balfour Beatty Construction is $56 million.

The $7 million increase does not include the litigation costs due the lawsuit filed against the district by Save the Field. At a recent Measure MM Independent Citizens Oversight Committee meeting it was stated that overall attorney fees so far amounted to $440,000.

“I am incredibly disappointed that it’s gotten here…to waste about $8 million for nothing,” said DMUSD Clerk Gee Wah Mok. “Any additional frivolity in trying to continue these lawsuits is absolutely stunning to me and as community members in this community we should be outraged that this is happening. This is a complete waste of our money.”

Delehanty said he believed the Heights price should hold through the build, absent any unforeseen delay that stops construction.

The group Save the Field has fought the district’s environmental review of the project as well as the loss of field space. They also appealed the San Diego Planning Commission’s approval of the project, which was denied by the Diego City Council in January.

The legal challenges continue as Save the Field this month filed an appeal of the city’s approval in San Diego Superior Court.

“Save The Field continues to strive for a collaborative solution to build an appropriately sized school and preserve neighborhood safety and recreation. Unfortunately, DMUSD has refused to collaborate, and an appeal now is working its way through the court system,” read a Feb. 22 statement from Save the Field spokesperson Rick Schloss. “Meanwhile, the newly released 2021 School Accountability Report Card shows Del Mar Heights School enrollment between 255-350 and declining while DMUSD continues to push for mega- school for 550 students. There is a simple solution — build the modernization alternative that is right-sized for current and projected future enrollment.”