Piper Underwood | Rimini Road
Looking for New Digs. Photo Art Olson
The Del Mar Hills Performing Arts Center was packed with concerned parents the night of February 10th. On the School Board’s agenda was whether or not to close Del Mar Hills Academy. Around 60 people held green slips of paper that read “Save Del Mar Hills.”
After reviewing the recommendations by the 7/11 Committee and hearing input from the community, the DMUSD and Superintendent McClain determined that they would not close Del Mar Hills Academy. The room erupted in cheers as parents waved their green slips of paper.
For the time being, school closure has been taken off the table, but reconfiguration remains an option. All of this hinges on where the district office lands. The district is still looking for a permanent home.
Superintendent McClain has recommended purchasing a property for the district office. As of this point, there is a limited supply of buildings that fit the district’s needs.
The district is looking for 15,000-25,000 square feet of district administrative space and an additional 5,000 square feet for maintenance and operations. The district is also looking for approximately 12 rooms on existing school property for an expanded district preschool and childcare program. Sycamore Ridge appears to be the logical choice for the district’s preschool since it already houses a special needs preschool with ADA compliant fixtures requiring less adaptation and subsequently less money.
The 7/11 district advisory committee found 40,000 square feet of total excess space within the district, but no single school site had greater than 10,000 square feet of excess.
In order to buy more time to search for a permanent site, the option of a temporary co-location of the district office at Del Mar Hills Academy was recommended. This will give the district more time to look for properties to purchase.
While the co-location of a temporary district administrative building creates minimal legal hurdles, it does present some issues. First, as board member Perkins clarified, the district would require approximately 10,000 sq. feet for their temporary digs. This equates to approximately 10 classrooms requiring some displacement of school children.
And finally, the district may be able to temporarily lease back their current offices at the Shores property until they can secure a permanent purchase. While this may work well for the City of Del Mar, it siphons money out of the district’s general fund that is already running a deficit.