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Back to School - But Which One?

Piper Underwood | Rimini

 

In an effort to optimize use of district property and run a more economically viable district, The Del Mar Unified School District Board of Trustees appointed a district advisory committee to help them evaluate their surplus property. The 7/11 Committee is tasked with evaluating school sites for possible closure or reconfiguration, finding a suitable home for district offices, and securing a space for maintenance and operations. The committee has not been asked to evaluate the possible sale of any district property.

The 7/11 Committee is comprised of 7 members headed by a nonpartisan (read: nonvoting) facilitator, Gayle Wayne. Committee members were selected based on their qualifications in related businesses, affiliations with particular school sites, educational administrative backgrounds, and other factors relevant to the process of evaluating possible uses of the district’s surplus property.

Some of the criteria being used to evaluate the possible closure or reconfiguration of various campuses are age of school facility, operational costs based on enrollment, impact on new or additional use of facility such as district offices or a preschool. But the most important factor will be the impact on the district’s financial stability.

Four of the eight campuses will not be considered for a possible closure due to high enrollment and expected future growth, or in the case of Sycamore Ridge, previous contractual agreements with Pardee Homes. Ashley Falls and Carmel del Mar may also be spared from a school closure due to tax structures such as Mello Roos that paid for the building of these schools. As cited on the district’s website, “Any site with Mello Roos/CFD funding source would require a broad and complex legal review prior to a closure recommendation.” These schools would still be vulnerable to a possible reconfiguration. The remaining two schools, Del Mar Hills Academy and Del Mar Heights are being evaluated for possible reconfiguration and closure.

Committee member Bob Shopes put forth a preliminary proposal for merging the two schools, with Del Mar Hills accommodating a K-3 program and Del Mar Heights taking on 4-6. A preschool would be housed at one school and district offices at the other. This was also one of the scenarios for Ashley Falls and Carmel del Mar. While the merging of two schools would not provide the district with as much cost savings as closing a single site entirely, Shopes felt that the savings difference was insignificant.

A progress report is due to the District’s Board of Trustees on August 26th with community hearings set for September. The Committee will deliver its final report to the Board of Trustees in December. If you have an opinion on this process and its potential outcomes, you can go to the district website for more in depth information and community hearing dates at www.dmusd.org.

If we do end up merging two schools, I have one word people – Carpool!

   
 

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