Del Mar school district parents share concerns on proposal for district childcare building

By Karen Billing

The Torrey Hills Elementary School community had the opportunity at a Dec. 3 Open House meeting to react to a proposed plan to move the Child Development Center (CDC) from Sycamore Ridge Elementary School to a new building to be constructed on the Torrey Hills campus.

The proposed move is part of the facilities master plan process that the Del Mar Union School District is currently undergoing, and finding a permanent home for the district’s CDC and pre-school is just one of the goals of the plan. Building a proposed 13,000-square -foot facility on the Torrey Hills campus would also help tackle low enrollment at Ashley Falls Elementary School and crowded conditions at Sycamore Ridge.

Traffic and parking remain the biggest concerns expressed by Torrey Hills parents. Parents said there is not enough parking for the current school population, let alone the addition of CDC students and faculty. Children walking and cars are often dangerously converging at the campus’ only entry points, parents said.

“It’s a big nightmare at this school, I would really have to see something that improves that. It’s been such a struggle. It’s the number one problem at our facility,” said a Torrey Hills parent.

The master plan improves plans to improve circulation at Torrey Hills by opening up a new access drive, expanding the parking lot and having staggered start times for the CDC.

Benjamin Dolinka, master plan consultant with the Dolinka Group, said regardless of whether the new CDC is built, the parking and traffic issue at Torrey Hills is one that needs to be resolved.

Parents were also concerned that the school would lose playground space with the construction of a new building.

Del Mar Union School District Superintendent Holly McClurg said that, according to a district analysis, Torrey Hills has the second largest amount of playground space among schools in the district and would continue to have that space even if the CDC building is constructed. She said the area where the new CDC building would be is an under-utilized area of campus.

The actual construction process was also a concern as parents wondered whether the district could get the project done during the 10 weeks of summer.

Randy Wheaton, director of maintenance, said they could complete most of the project in the summer months and all efforts could be made to minimize impacts if work carried over into the school year. McClurg said it would be a district priority to minimize any possible impacts on current students.

“There won’t be jackhammers outside of classrooms,” McClurg said.

The facilities master plan outreach committee will meet a final time on Dec. 17 for a look at all of the improvements planned for district campuses and rank the importance of those projects.

McClurg said that while they had been aiming to deliver the facilities master plan to the board in January, it is now looking as though it will be finalized in February.