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School Daze

For many years the Del Mar Union School District encompassed just two elementary schools on the west side of I-5 for about 1,000 children in grades K-6. In the 1990s the district boundaries were expanded to include Carmel Valley in the City of San Diego and now serve 5,000 students including six additional schools east of I-5. A new development on the eastern edge of the District near Poway is expected to add about 600 new students. Recently the District put forth a “reconfiguration plan” to serve the swelling K-6 population east of I-5.


Viktor Nemeth | 7th Street/Stratford Court

The first question I had upon hearing this was, “where is PHR?” Pacific Highlands Ranch (PHR) is east of Del Mar about 5 miles inland and is part of the City of San Diego.

The second question that came to mind was, “why should Del Mar residents pay new taxes to build a school in PHR, which is really far away and in a different city?”
This is the odd proposal currently being floated by the Del Mar Unified School District (DMUSD) which apparently also represents people who live pretty far away from the actual city of Del Mar.

In simple terms, what is being proposed is a new bond measure (similar to the one that failed in 2010) which would collect new taxes to: 1) build a new school in PHR; 2) close Del Mar Hills Academy; 3) super-size Del Mar Heights Elementary. It’s of course more complicated but that’s the basic idea.

For Sandpiper readers and seemingly many voters/taxpayers, this would represent a turn for the worse. In what ways?

If you live in Del Mar, a new elementary school in PHR is not really relevant. Why would anyone who lives “west of the 5” want to increase their taxes, to fund something that does not benefit them?

If you are a homeowner west of the 5, the removal of a top-ranked elementary school at Del Mar Hills is bad for property values. For the Del Mar property buyer, the choice of two amazing “local” elementary schools is a key value proposition.
If you are a parent living in Del Mar, your elementary school students (as young as 5 years old) will now be packed into a much larger school environment. With 350 kids at Hills and 550 kids at Heights this year, the simple math for one location looks like 900, which is a really bad outcome for the kids.

If you live in the Del Mar Heights area, get ready for a significant, permanent increase in traffic, in addition to construction activity for 18-24 months.

If you are a current Hills or Heights parent, plan for at least 30 minutes at drop off and 30 minutes at pickup to navigate parking and traffic flow. If you think it’s bad now, imagine a few hundred more parents to join in the fun every day.
Please take the time to learn more about this proposal, and develop your own opinion.



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