Del Mar school district considering several locations for Childcare Development Center


By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District presented four options, both short and long term, for a new location for the Childcare Development Center (CDC) at a special workshop on April 19.

In option A, the CDC/preschool location would remain at Sycamore Ridge, shifting the classes to the separate child care building. Option B would be to relocate the CDC/special education preschool (3-5 year olds) to Ashley Falls and option C would be to relocate the infant/toddler and age 2’s to Ashley Falls.

The one long-term option presented was to construct a new permanent building at a school site, a cost of $4-6 million.

The board is expected to hear a recommendation from staff on their preferred option at the April 23 meeting.

The CDC moved to Sycamore Ridge from the old Ninth Street district office two years ago on a temporary basis. Both take up an entire wing of the campus and parents have concerns about overcrowding for the K-6 population and kindergartners being displaced from rooms designed for them, with bathrooms attached.

In the childcare program, children up to 2 and a half are only staff children, not public. Priority is offered to employees for ages over 2 and a half with a two-week window to register before the program is opened to the public.

Option A involves leaving the CDC at Sycamore Ridge, just moving it into the after- school child care building. The shift would return three kindergarten classes to their designated classrooms and leave two classrooms for growth.

Principal Emily Morris said that there is the potential for four kindergarten classes next year at Sycamore Ridge, with 59 students currently enrolled for the fall and 10 packets out.

The most expensive short-term option, Option B, would not be a solution for this fall but would re-locate the 3-5 year old program to Ashley Falls, leaving the infant, toddlers and age 2s at Sycamore Ridge. This option would cost $356,000 to $358,900, including modernizing six classrooms to include toilets and sinks and adding a new play structure for 3-year-olds.

This option adds 35 parking spaces to the overcrowded lot at Sycamore Ridge and it permanently alters the classrooms at Ashley Falls by adding the bathrooms and shrinking classrooms from 845 to 720 square feet when additional casework and cabinetry is added in.

Parents questioned the logic of a short term solution that permanently alters the school and essentially moves one campus problem to another school.

A masters facilities plan identified 17 empty classrooms at Ashley Falls, but it appears that there are only nine. Principal Shelley Peterson said that there really are no empty classrooms at the school — even though the classrooms may not contain a K-6 section, they are being used for ESC, speech or other programs.

Parents also asked where the money would come from, especially when the district is expected to be deficit spending $3.9 million this year.

Cathy Birks, assistant superintendent of business services, said the funds for pre-K licenses, an additional supervisor and furniture could come out of the enterprise fund; the sinks and the bathrooms could come out of the developer facilities fund, and the play structure could come out of the general fund.

“Truthfully, as I look at this option, I’m not sure if it is the most viable,” Superintendent Jim Peabody said.

In Option C, the pre school (for 3 year olds) CDC and SPED preschool remain at Sycamore and the infant, toddlers and age 2s are relocated to Ashley Falls. Option C would cost about $49,350, including licensing, an additional on-site administrator and the installation of two sinks.

It adds eight parking spots to Sycamore Ridge, returns the kindergartners to their wing and allows for three classrooms for growth. At Ashley Falls, they will lose eight parking spots, add sinks to two classrooms and leave one classroom for growth.

Option C has an aggressive timeline to be ready for August 2012.

Funding for the sole long-term option to build a new CDC preschool is not available, but would be with the passage of the bond the district is looking at for November.

“Two years from passing the bond we could get the facility done and with surplus Shores sale money we could do interim things to alleviate the pressure on either school,” Peabody said. “We’re continuing to explore all the options as we have to do the best for every child in the district.”