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Construction kicks off at Del Mar Heights School

the groundbreaking of Del Mar Heights School.
DMUSD Superintendent Holly McClurg, board members Erica Halpern, Doug Rafner, Scott Wooden, Gee Wah Mok, Katherine Fitzpatrick, Assistant Superintendent Chris Delehanty and Construction Manager Mike Galis at the groundbreaking of Del Mar Heights School.
(Karen Billing)

The dirt is finally moving at Del Mar Heights School. After a ceremonial groundbreaking with the Del Mar Union School District board and administration on March 15, Heights kids armed with a rainbow of plastic shovels got a chance to dig and toss some dirt for their brand new school.

The dirt is finally moving at Del Mar Heights School. After a ceremonial groundbreaking with the Del Mar Union School District board and administration on March 15, Heights kids armed with a rainbow of plastic shovels got a chance to dig and toss some dirt for their brand new school.

Following the groundbreaking, the large crowd of students, parents and community members watched and cheered as the claw of an excavator tore chunks away from the classroom building, sending the old school’s distinctive 1959-era blue trim crashing to the ground.

The district had originally hoped to hold the groundbreaking ceremony back in July 2020 but faced delays in the city’s permitting process and legal challenges from Save the Field. District staff was at the courthouse that morning as Save the Field continues to challenge the rebuild in court over the environmental review process and the city’s approval of the project. Due to the delays, the cost of the rebuild has increased to $56 million in Measure MM funds approved by voters in 2018.

“We all know that it has been a long journey to get here,” said DMUSD Superintendent Holly McClurg. “There are so many people among us today who have devoted countless hours on making sure that this school gets built. Our children deserve this school, our teachers deserve this school, our staff deserves this school and the community deserves this school.”

Heights students participated in the groundbreaking.
(Karen Billing)

DMUSD board President Erica Halpern, parent of a Heights fourth grader, said she can remember eight years ago being part of the discussions about the desperate needs for the school: “It feels amazing to finally stand here in person.”

The portables plagued by pests and leaks are long gone—the Baker Nowicki design for the new Heights includes classrooms with outdoor learning spaces linked by a campus boardwalk, STEAM classrooms grouped around a new innovation center big enough to hold the entire school with a stage with views of the ocean and the Torrey Pines Reserve. There will also finally be tables in the lunch shelter, rather than benches.

For the construction period, large temporary noise barrier walls now divide Boquita Drive from the action and Balfour Beatty Construction has committed to an expedited 14-month build. The hope is for the school to be completed by May 2023 with a chance for Heights sixth graders to promote from their new school.

A Del Mar Heights classroom building is demolished.
(Karen Billing)


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