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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.

Community Speaks Up
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

Photo Ann Gardner.
Click to enlarge.

The Del Mar Union School District got an earful of criticism that was tempered only at the end of the May 22 “town hall” session at the Del Mar Hills school to get input on the District’s plan to close that school, build a new school at the Heights and on the east side of I-5 to accommodate the swelling K-6 population there. Del Mar residents attending this last of four town hall sessions did not hesitate to criticize the District for, some thought, asking for input when the District had already made up its mind on how they were going to deal with more children in Carmel Valley and eight existing schools that need renovation work. One parent expressed the thoughts of some attending: ‘I want to support the School District but I cannot when you are asking me to now drive my children across heavily trafficked Del Mar Heights Road and replace our only park space with 30 new homes.”

Some small group discussions led by staff on different aspects of the plan got critical enough at one point that Superintendent Holly McClurg appeared to hesitate calling attendees back together for a final question and answer period. Even then it was clear that most of the final input was negative, centering on what those attending felt was a hurried up plan that did not take into account their attachment to the Del Mar Hills site with its performing Arts Center and park space and, perhaps most important, within walking distance of their homes. On the other hand residents south of Del Mar Heights Road cited the problems with building a bigger school in their neighborhood that will increase traffic on residential streets with no sidewalks.

The four town hall sessions, two on each side of I-5, were scheduled by the School District to explain and gather support for a possible general obligation bond to finance two new schools, one on each side of the freeway, and renovate the remaining six east of I-5 where the District boundary extends east to Poway. The Hills school would be closed in the process with no reassurance that the site would be preserved for community uses, the justification being that it was more cost effective to build one new school rather than renovating two older schools. One resident pointed out that with so much opposition coming from the Del Mar area it would be impossible to pass the School Bond expected to be on the November ballot. Another speaker urged the District to work with the community to avoid an east/west division: “We need to work together,” she said.



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