February 2010 home page


SCHOOLS: Short-Sighted Closure(s)
Joel Holliday | Crest Road

Del Mar Heights School   Phot Illustration Art Olson

At the time of the writing of this article, the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) is considering closing the Del Mar Hills Academy, moving its administrative offices and maintenance/operations facilities to that site and moving the Hills students to the Del Mar Heights School.

The arguments in support of this plan are that it will save money and allow the District to move out of its current space at Del Mar Shores and into more spacious offices which would consolidate all the administrative offices.

The District has not yet provided a definitive analysis of all the costs and benefits of a school closure. For example, the costs of closing a school, adapting the receiving schools to accommodate more students, getting appropriate zoning changes, converting classroom space into offices, and most important, the cost of accelerating building a new school by 2 years, have not been identified.

Fiscally, a school closure would be irresponsible. The District is now at 76% of capacity, and will be at 100% of capacity within 7-8 years. Closing the Hills would accelerate by 2 years the district being at 100% of capacity, and would precipitate having to build a 9th school within 5-6 years. The costs of accelerating the building of a new school, and the costs mentioned above, would overwhelm any savings from closing a school.

More important, closing a school would degrade the district’s quality of education by overcrowding classroom and recreational space and decreasing the diversity of schools that give parents choices that are best for their kids.

Del Mar Hills School.  Photo Art Olson

The closure of the Hills would put both Del Mar Heights and Carmel del Mar at capacity as the Hills students are moved to the Heights and some students now attending the Heights are transferred to Carmel Del Mar. As enrollment from west of the freeway grows a projected 4%-5% a year for the next 3 years, some students living west of the freeway would be sent to schools outside of their neighborhoods.

The first rate elementary school district we have built over the last 35 years, and which has drawn many young families to this area, would be diminished by closing the Hills.

Despite months of reasoned and principled opposition by the affected parents, the closure of the Hills remains a consideration. It is now time for the broader Del Mar community to join in letting the School Board know that we oppose a closure and welcome a thorough financial analysis and discussion of the alternatives for dealing with the District’s budget issues.

You can learn more about this issue on the District’s website (www.dmusd.org), under the “7/11 Committee” section.



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