Del Mar Union School District outreach group begins work on master plan

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District’s facilities master plan outreach group began work last week on drawing up a long-term roadmap for how the district will deliver education in the future.

A group of about 40 staff members, parents and community members met at Del Mar Hills on Sept. 18 for the first of three meetings. They met in a small group format to discuss how they want their school’s facilities to create “a path for tomorrow’s innovative, global thinkers.”

The group will meet once more on Oct. 1 before a town hall meeting — open to all community members — is held on Wednesday, Nov. 6. After the town hall meeting, the outreach group will meet for a final time on Dec. 17 and the final master plan will be presented to the board on Jan. 22, 2014.

“A master plan can be about fixing what’s broken but it can also figure out where you want to be as a district 15 to 20 years from now,” said Don Pender, a principal with the district’s facilitator LPA Architects.

Pender said through this process the district can plan for facilities to fit what they want to teach rather than simply return the facilities to the condition they were before.

Kate Mraw, an interior designer with LPA, talked about what is happening currently in facilities planning for schools — how spaces are being designed to be innovative, sustainable and inspiring for students to learn.

Mraw said the trends now for schools are to create spaces to approach all different learning styles, like having mobile furniture to promote collaboration or quiet nooks for more one-on-one instruction. She said facilities are designed now to support the idea that “learning happens everywhere,” such as a pull-out space in a hallway or opportunities to learn or gather in outdoor spaces.

Armed with post-it notes, the group had a chance to weigh in on topics such as what kind of spaces the district needs for professional learning; what activities the multi-use room should support; how to re-define the library/media center; and what both indoor and outdoor spaces should look like.

Outreach group members are also tasked with communicating with individual school sites and gathering as much input as they can as they form the ideas for the district’s facilities master plan.