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Commentary:
Child’s Play

Nicole Pentheroudakis | Recuerdo Drive

Playfields and Courts.
Source: playoutsidedelmar.org. 
Click to enlarge.

Is DMUSD’s current rebuild design for Del Mar Heights Elementary School the ONLY one that can keep our children safe? Enable a great education? Provide parking for the teachers? Of course not. This design’s supporters insist that those of us trying to save the school field don’t care about the safety and education of our children. That we only care about the views (though 99% of us have zero impact from the views). As a Mom to two current Del Mar Heights students, that reasoning is both offensive and not true. What we care about is building the right school for Del Mar’s children.

Finalizing the design plans during the summer, behind closed doors, has created a deeply flawed and divisive process. In September the community was presented with, in effect, a done deal. Every suggestion to preserve more field space since, has been shut down. Our concerns have been answered with selective details blatantly orchestrated to support the proposed design and to refute the possibility of change.

This campus design prioritizes parking and traffic queue; single stories; small, outdoor learning spaces; and centralizing the classrooms. Some wonderful ideas, but there is a huge cost - more than half of the school field and more than half of the blacktop. The outdoor play area falls dismally short of CA Department of Education Minimum Requirements. This design gives lowest priority to what many children love most about going to school and what many experts believe to be a critical component of an elementary school education. It comes at the expense of a field that has promoted the health and well-being of Del Mar’s children for generations.

Greta Thunberg is Time’s Person of the Year. Climate change is arguably the biggest issue our children will face. Environmental impact should be central to every decision we make and this design doesn’t even guarantee solar. A few trees will be planted to offset, basically, paving a whole new road around the campus. This design encourages parents to drive to school, when the world is focusing on ways to walk, bike and use mass transit like school buses. Our children will judge us for our lack of foresight, and they should.

Building Del Mar Heights School FAST has become a higher priority than building the school RIGHT. This school is being built to meet the needs of our children for the next 50 years. We must do better, even if that means a new design.

 

 

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