Plan would affect Hills, Heights schools only


7-11 considering many options for DMUSD changes

A revamped plan presented last week by three members of the Del Mar Union School District’s 7-11 committee involved reconfiguring Del Mar Hills Academy to house the district office and an “early childhood education center” composed of a kindergarten, preschool and special day classes.

In the proposal, presented at the 7-11 committee’s Aug. 20 meeting, Del Mar Heights would be reconfigured to handle grades 1 through 6. District maintenance supervisor Randy Wheaton devised the plan with Torrey Hills principal Susan Paul and Carmel Del Mar teacher Cinda Peck.

Wheaton said he considered the “bare bones” needed to house the district offices their proposal. Approximately 15,000 square feet are needed instead of the 25,000 square feet the district used in the past and the committee has been struggling to find a new space for within existing school sites.

Wheaton, Paul and Peck’s plan included housing the maintenance department in just one classroom plus a tilt-up trailer to use as a warehouse.

“We want to make something that the community on the west side of Del Mar can be proud of,” Paul said. “Community members can come together to determine what kinds of improvements should be made to reflect what we want for our children.”

Peck said their goal was to keep the DMUSD’s existing schools open and bring the best parts of the two schools and communities together.

The portables at the Heights would be removed and 10 new classrooms and a new multi-purpose room built in their place. Peck said they would be made possible with community investment program funds from the sale of the Del Mar Shores property.

The 7-11 committee will present a recommendation to the board of trustees at an upcoming regular meeting. The committee was asked to identify ways to reduce operational costs, make better use of excess space, house the district office, maintenance and operations department and add a for-profit preschool.

Committee chair Bob Shopes said the information about the amount of space needed for a district office would change the way the committee approaches their task.

“We’re just finding out what the district needs are after four months,” he said. “Today we heard that the district office and maintenance offices could be a different size. It changes how we view these proposals.”

There are several other proposals that the group is considering, including closures and reconfigurations that would potentially affect Del Mar Hills, Del Mar Heights, Carmel Del Mar and Ashley Falls.

Parent Estela de Llanos spoke out against Wheaton, Peck and Paul’s proposal.

“I appreciate the desire to unite the community west of the 5 but I think you can say that about any other two schools,” de Llanos said, adding she found their discussion on the Hills/Heights plan patronizing and divisive. “I think you should be talking about unifying the entire district.”

De Llanos, who is also a land-use and California Environmental Quality Act lawyer, said the district might run into some problems adding onto the Heights campus, as there is environmentally sensitive habitat nearby. She also noted that building there would involve a very protracted and expensive process.