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Two North County schools under construction go green

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Among the modernization and new school projects in North County, the construction of Del Sur Elementary and Del Norte High promises first-rate campuses for the newly opened master-planned community of Del Sur.

Tech-advanced and earth-friendly, the schools will be part of the highly regarded Poway Unified School District. Now under construction, the elementary site is slated to open in 2008, and the high school is targeted for 2009.

Del Sur Elementary, sitting on 10 acres with an 81,000-square-foot facility, will serve 800 students, and Del Norte High School, accommodating 2,250 students, will cover 62 acres with a 210,093-square-foot campus for grades ninth through 12th.

Workers pour the slab for one of the bulidings in the new Del Norte High school, expected to open in 2009.

Green and grooving with Del Sur community's renewable energy focus, 20 percent of the elementary school's power will come from solar energy. In some of the surrounding neighborhoods, up to 40 percent of the homes will use photovoltaic energy.

Of the 3,000 nearby dwellings, if at least 20 percent utilize solar power, "that's 600 units," said Bill Dumka, senior vice president of Del Sur residential developer Black Mountain Ranch LLC. "These are big numbers."

For buyers and families who have an ecological sensibility, "this is probably your best choice in San Diego," he said.

Dumka explained that the Poway Unified School District had an internal discussion to design and build the schools with energy conservation and sustainable practices in mind. "They made that decision on their own," he said. "They knew what community they were building in."

Preserving and renewing existing landscape, Del Sur Elementary will use satellite technology to control irrigation and to only water when necessary. The surrounding community of Del Sur utilizes the same weather-based system, which could conserve up to 40,000 gallons of water per household yearly.

Del Norte High, featuring fine arts and physical education "villages," will offer art-based facilities for students to excel in drama, visual arts and music, and sports facilities that include a competition-sized gymnasium, dance rooms, outdoor stadium and swimming pool.

The stadium will seat 3,780 and the gymnasium will hold up to 1,785 spectators. The school's 392-seat theater will be located in the performing arts center. Students will have access to 45 general education classrooms, 11 vocational classrooms, five special education classrooms, two music classrooms, 12 science labs, five art labs and food service facilities. Administrative and staff work areas will be located in a two-story building at the front of the school. Central database and Internet access will be available throughout the campus.

Del Norte construction is headed by Douglas E. Barnhart Inc., and costs will be around $105 million. Other Poway Unified schools are modernizing and expanding with its Building for Success Program, authorized by Proposition U, a $198 million ballot measure approved by voters in November 2002 to repair, renovate and expand 24 schools. Construction began at Painted Rock Elementary in April, and Abraxas High, Meadowbrook Middle, Black Mountain Middle, Chaparral Elementary, Rolling Hills Elementary, Pomerado Elementary and Valley Elementary schools are currently in the design phase. North County's Carlsbad Unified School District also secured funds to modernize and upgrade Carlsbad High School and to develop a second high school.

Improvements at Carlsbad high will feature a new stadium, permanent classroom buildings, and a new visual and performing arts center.

Carlsbad's additional high school will be developed and built over the next four years. Some amenities include an all-weather track, synthetic turf football field with stands to seat 4,000, an aquatic center and a performing arts/auditorium building.

Klam is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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