7-11 process frustrates parents

The Del Mar Union School District’s 7-11 committee continues to work hard to find ways to solve the district’s financial shortfalls without having to close any schools. With their meeting schedule dwindling and Dec. 9 deadline fast approaching, the committee is pushing to have their options narrowed down at their Nov. 4 meeting.

Some parents who have dutifully attended every meeting expressed frustration at the slow-moving process.

“After all this time, there’s not been a lot of progress,” parent Dan Picker said. “I wonder if this has just been a great, brilliant ploy to make everyone write a check to make all this go away.”

Members Bob Shopes and Wayne Harris looked at all the surplus rooms at all the schools in the district and figured out how they could be used. Shopes said modifications can be made to free up blocks of eight to 10 classrooms at some campuses to accommodate a district office without having to close a school.

While they could come up with endless reconfigurations, two that figure into most of the alternatives are using Sycamore Ridge for the preschool and Del Mar Hills for maintenance and operations. Options for the district office location are Ashley Falls, Torrey Hills or Carmel Del Mar.

Sage Canyon and Ocean Air don’t figure into most of the alternatives as they have the least available space — excluding uses of class sections, extended studies, childcare and special day classes, both schools only have one “extra” room.

Shopes said they still have to review whether scenarios make sense as far as accessibility, parking, security and available playground space for preschoolers. Committee member Janet Handzell also said that cost-saving numbers should also be attached to each alternative.

While some parents said they appreciated the options that aimed not to close any school or shift students, others weren’t as sure.

“Hacking a school up into pieces makes me nervous, it could render a school ineffective,” Picker said.

He said if the only option is to destroy a school and “shove employees into the cracks,” he’d rather they just close a school and use the money to make another school better.

Martha Cox, a retiree who worked for Del Mar for 20 years, spoke up for the district office employees whose needs are often devalued even though the work they do impacts all schools and children. She said for two years she shared an office meant for one with two others. Their furniture consists of the damaged leftovers, she said.

“The district employees are not looking for palatial, just facilities that will at long last provide efficiency and bring working conditions in line with every other in the district,” Cox said.

She said she was disappointed that the sale of the Shores provided $8.5 million for a new district home and that the board has made no movement in two years.

“Those two years has been squandered,” Cox said.


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