7/11 committee meetings heat up

The committee created to consider options for reconfiguring Del Mar Union School District property or closing a school will report to the board of trustees on Aug. 26, a fast-approaching deadline that has many local parents concerned.

“We may need more time for this,” said parent Craig Sherman who had applied to be a part of the 7/11 committee. “There’s a lot of information and coming up with a preliminary proposal is much too quick.”

The 7/11 committee is comprised of seven members representing district schools, excluding Sycamore Ridge. Their goal is to recommend a new home for the district office, identify 21 classrooms that can be used to create a for-profit preschool and ultimately save money by identifying a way for the district to use its space more efficiently.

Of the 30 applicants, only the minimum seven were selected and no alternates have been called despite the fact that only four members were at the July 23 meeting and more were expected to miss the August meeting.

Approximately 30 parents were at last week’s meeting and some said it is difficult to make the 3 p.m. weekday meetings.

“I think you’re going to have a tremendous amount of political fallout if you don’t move meetings to the evenings,” said Del Mar Hills parent Kerry Traylor. “You need to be considerate of what is best for the community. These issues are just too important.”

The committee said they would look into changing the times but the facilitator, Gayle Wayne, said she could not meet later.

Closure of Del Mar Hills discussed

For now, it appears Torrey Hills, Ocean Air, Sycamore Ridge and Sage Canyon are “safe” as they are either close to capacity or have restrictions due to future development plans. That leaves Ashley Falls, Carmel Del Mar, Del Mar Heights and Del Mar Hills as the ones committee members are strongly considering making changes to.

One option that has been discussed involves merging Ashley Falls and Carmel Del Mar and having K-3 on one site and grades 4-6 at the other. Another option proposed the same kind of grade split at Del Mar Hills and Del Mar Heights.

A new option involving closing Del Mar Hills and using it as the district office and preschool was presented last Thursday.

“I’m not convinced we need to close a school but if we are going to close a school this is really the place we could focus,” said Wayne Harris, who presented the option.

The option involves reassigning 114 students from Del Mar Hills who reside in a small area called “16 GJK” along El Camino Real back to Carmel Del Mar, combining the Hills and the Heights at a projected enrollment of about 788.

A reconfigured Del Mar Hills would allow for the 21 preschool classrooms, 22,000 square feet for the district offices and blacktop space for district vehicles.

The Hills has had declining enrollment for the past five years and is expected to continue decreasing through 2018. Projected growth south of Highway 56 is expected to increase enrollment at Ocean Air, Torrey Hills, Sycamore Ridge and Ashley Falls. Ashley Falls might be needed to accommodate anticipated full Sycamore Ridge, Harris said.

The for-profit preschool concept has confused many parents. While district administration has known about the great need for a preschool and has been working on the concept, it has not been formally presented in a public meeting.

One former board member said the perception is that the board is trying to sneak it through, forcing the 7/11 committee to make the decision.

“If you eliminate the need for those 21 classrooms there’s no need to close a school,” said the former board member.