Del Mar Union School District begins process of developing a facilities master plan

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District is beginning the process of developing its facilities master plan, looking to the community for input as the district forms its “long-term roadmap” on how the district will deliver education in the future from a facilities standpoint.

At its Aug. 28 meeting, the board heard an update on the process from LPA Architects, the firm selected to guide the district as it develops its plan.

Don Pender, a principle at LPA, said that the firm acts just as the “organizers” or facilitators — the heart of the plan will really come out of the district’s outreach group meetings and town hall meeting.

The outreach group comprised of 30 to 40 key stakeholders will have three meetings throughout the fall at Del Mar Hills Academy.

The first meeting will be held Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 3-5 p.m. on the topic of the educational program, preschool and childcare, integration of technology, and professional development.

The second and third meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 1, and Tuesday, Dec. 17, both from 3-5 p.m.

Pender said the outreach meetings are where all the master plan options are generated for the executive committee.

A town hall meeting open to all community members will be held on Nov. 6. At that meeting the master plan options will all be presented, with budget estimates so as to avoid any “sticker shock.”

The community will go through a prioritization exercise where all of the options are posted and members place dots on the ones they would like to see happen the most. “There’s usually some surprise,” Pender said of the prioritization exercise results, but noted that it forces them to re-think some of their options and that becomes the foundation of the final plan.

“You’ve got a process that people who participate in the community are going to feel really good about,” Pender said.

The final presentation of the facilities master plan is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2014.

Pender detailed the pillars LPA considers when helping develop a master plan, looking at creating sustainable, logical, financially achievable projects while promoting that collaboration with the community and stakeholders.

“It’s an opportunity for the district to reach out to the community and for the community to see the good work you’re doing,” Pender said.