Del Mar school district board receives community input at facilities master plan workshop

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District board held a workshop on Feb. 12 to hear progress on its developing facilities master plan, which sets a roadmap for the future with campus improvements such as removing portable classrooms for good, reconfiguring libraries into “innovation centers,” and modernizations. The board heard from parents about their reactions to proposed upgrades and reconfigurations at their school sites.

Carmel Del Mar School is proposed to have the biggest modernization overhaul and is one of the school sites most in need. A parent said the roof leaks badly and there’s no heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The parent added that those are issues that should be addressed before creating professional learning centers for teachers or innovation centers. The fact that there could any kind of delay before those important fixes is, as the parent said, “a tough pill to swallow for a parent whose kid needs to remember to bring a jacket to school to wear indoors if it’s cold outside.”

The CDM parent said they understand the district’s need to be prudent with the outlay of capital, but there are certain fundamental issues with the site that need to be taken into account.

He went on to say that “The community of CDM has a hard time postponing basic modernization and repairs” now that will not be addressed until five years from now.

Trustee Scott Wooden said the board is aware there are real issues at the school, which is due for an upgrade after being built in 1991. He said they don’t know where the funding for the facilities master plan projects will come from yet and they don’t want to spend money twice, such as replacing a roof and then having to tear it out to add a second story. Wooden said there would definitely be prioritization with projects.

The largest new construction project is planned for Torrey Hills School, an 11,000-square-foot building with 10 classrooms to house the child development center, proposed to move over from its current space at Sycamore Ridge and Ashley Falls.

A Torrey Hills parent said a hot topic on their campus continues to be enrollment and capacity. Despite what enrollment projections say, the community is not convinced that the population will stay small due to the construction of new apartment buildings in the area.

Even without the new buildings, the streets are overburdened, the parent said.

Another parent pointed out that in the site reviews Torrey Hills’ multi-use room was deemed undersized but the plan does not address that. The parent also said that one of the locations for new storage appears to take up room in the outdoor learning area for science classrooms, an element that the school was heavily praised for and that the district is looking to mimic at other campuses. The consultant from LPA Inc. (architects) said they would take those concerns into account.

Some parents and teachers were very happy to see plans for their school.

A Del Mar Heights parent complimented the plans for their campus as it looks to replace 13 portable classrooms with permanent buildings.

At Del Mar Hills, since kindergarten classrooms are small, the large art room is proposed to be reconfigured and expanded as a kindergarten wing. New permanent buildings would house a new art classroom, as well as music, PE and science.

As the school has an almost entirely outdoor circulation between classrooms, the plan suggests creating a new collaboration-style hallway between classrooms, similar to Ashley Falls’ campus, linking rooms and connecting back into the central innovation center.

A Del Mar Hills kindergarten teacher said “huzzah” to the proposed changes to the Hills campus.