SAN MARCOS — After years of delay and debate, San Marcos’ first K-8 school opened its doors last month.
Double Peak School, perched at the intersection of San Elijo Road and Ledge Street at the top of San Elijo Hills, opened its doors Aug. 29 after years of planning. The $75 million campus, for which planning began five years ago, was created to alleviate crowding at San Elijo Hill’s other two schools, San Elijo Elementary and San Elijo Middle schools.
“We are really excited with how well it has gone,” Double Peak principal Steve Baum said. “I think the opening really met and exceeded our expectations. The community, students, parents and families are truly excited to be here and I don’t think we could have asked for a better first three days than we have had.”
The school hosted an orientation and welcome in August, which was attended by hundreds of parents and students in advance of the first day of school, said Anna-Lucia Roybal, the district’s spokeswoman.
“You could tell there was a lot of excitement, and a lot of oohs and aahs,” Roybal said.
For years, however, a number of residents tried to thwart the school from being built at its location.
A group known as “Stop San Marcos K-8” expressed concerns about the location of the project, which it says imperils the children who will attend.
Double Peak sits just below the crest of San Elijo Road, where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour and the street begins a steep 10 percent grade both eastbound and westbound. Motorists are often seen driving in excess of the 50 mph speed limit, some using the street as a shortcut to Carlsbad and Encinitas and others using it to get to nearby Cal State San Marcos.
The group, spearheaded by local resident Andy Lee, said that these conditions would endanger the lives of children who will have to cross San Elijo Road in order to make it to and from school.
District officials responded by saying they were taking necessary measures to calm traffic in the area as well as shorten the queue of vehicles some anticipated would line up before and after school.
A 25-mile-per-hour speed limit is now in place in the immediate vicinity of the school, and the drop-off area includes a long loop that brings in most of the vehicles off the street.
Baum said that the school staff is constantly working on ways to address the traffic during those hours.
“We knew that it would initially be a challenge, as it is for most schools during that first week, and then you add the complexity of it being a brand new campus,” he said. “We are working with the city and the Sheriff’s Department to observe and tinker with those plans, and our parents are being patient and understanding and we continue to get better.”
The project also faced several delays.
It was moved from its original site due to the discovery of arsenic on the grounds, and then it was further delayed due to prolonged negotiations with nearby property owners as well as changes to the plans mandated by the Division of the State Architect, that had to be submitted and approved by the division before the school district moves forward with the project.
But Baum said the wait was worth it.
“We are lucky to be in San Marcos, which builds beautiful schools and this is absolutely one of them,” Baum said. “Our students get the best of both worlds, with both the elementary and middle school facilities, and one of the common statements we hear is, ‘What a beautiful school our students are going to.’’