Child care center construction OK’d

Construction on the new Ocean Air School child care center will begin on June 18 after the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees approved the project at its June 9 meeting.

The 3,340-square-foot structure will help provide a service that was “needed yesterday,” according to Ocean Air parent and staff member Karen Holty.

Ocean Air is the only school in the district without a child care center and is home to one of the biggest after-school care populations in the district, according to Julie Geisbauer, child care director. Geisbauer said there are more than 100 students in child care, 60 in kindergarten alone.

With the 135 children already on the list to enter kindergarten at Ocean Air, it’s likely they will not have the rooms to spare next year, Holty said, making the need for a designated facility more pressing.

At the meeting, the board of trustees approved a contract with Barnhart, Balfour Beatty Construction, which has a 13-year history of working with the district. The center will be built using a lease, lease-back method, in which the property is leased to the contractor for the duration of the project. The contractor then has the opportunity to select subcontractors to bid on the project, and once the bids are awarded, a guaranteed maximum price is given to the district.

Tim Barry of Barnhart, Balfour and Beatty said the guaranteed maximum price is $1,239,124, not including an additional $3,000 the district will have to spend on appliances.

“We think they gave the district a very competitive bid,” said Randy Wheaton, district maintenance supervisor.

Barry said they have selected high-quality subcontractors and most of them are local companies, at the request of trustee Doug Perkins. To avoid bringing construction trailers on campus, Balfour will use a couple of spare classrooms.

Board considers enrollment caps

The Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees is considering placing enrollment caps on Sage Canyon and Ocean Air elementary schools because of current and projected growth in their communities.

Sage Canyon enrollment this year is at 770 students, a number that is projected to increase to 798 and keep growing over the next four years. By the 2013-14 school year, there could be 857 students, according to DecisionInsite numbers. District staff is proposing a cap of 792-805 total students, with individual caps on specific grade levels.

Enrollment at Ocean Air is proposed to be capped at 738 to 770 students, which will impact students who currently reside in the attendance area in grades kindergarten through third grade. There is space available for fourth and sixth grades.

Already, Ocean Air has 135 kindergartners signed up and the proposed cap is 120-126 for kindergarten classes, meaning some children are going to have to find a new school.

Vanessa Black, Del Mar Hills PTA president, informed the board that Del Mar Hills would welcome students with open arms. She asked that the district consider funneling overflow students to the Hills as they have had challenges bringing students to their school after the threat of school closure.

As Del Mar Heights shares a boundary with Del Mar Hills, parents requested that the Heights kindergarten be capped at three classes until a third class at the Hills is filled. Currently, the Hills has just two kindergarten classes. In contrast, Sage Canyon has seven.

Board has to wait to amend schedule

At its June 9 meeting, the Del Mar Union School District board hoped to amend its meeting schedule to just one meeting per month instead of two, and to not schedule a meeting for July. Instead, a letter from retired district staff member Martha Cox gave it pause.

Cox alleged that the board did not go through proper protocol in amending its schedule the first time, when, in January, the board changed the schedule from one meeting per month to two.

The board members said they will research the issue to ensure that they follow their bylaws and state laws and will revisit the issue again on June 23.