School district offers tour of Prop. AA projects

School district offers tour of Prop. AA projects
Adam Camacho, principal of Earl Warren Middle School, updates parent representatives, the board of trustees, members of an oversight committee and staff from San Dieguito Union High School District during a Proposition AA fall projects tour on Oct.6. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

REGION — Parent representatives, the board of trustees, members of an oversight committee and staff from San Dieguito Union High School District had a firsthand look at how money from voter-approved bonds is being spent during a Proposition AA fall projects tour on Oct.6.

With ongoing construction at about half of the district’s 11 existing or planned schools, the group started by viewing improvements to the media centers at La Costa Canyon High School and Diegueño Middle School.

In the south end of the district, participants watched as work was being done at Earl Warren Middle School to replace Warren Hall with a multipurpose space that will better serve the adjacent shared city library.

The food service building was also demolished, but the school is actually serving more food this year out of kiosks, Principal Adam Camacho said.

Because of the lack of space, there will be no school dances this year, he added.

When the current school year ends in mid-June, the rest of the campus buildings will be demolished.

Eric Dill, associate superintendent of business services, said outdated power and bandwidth led to the decision to “start from scratch.”

“The oldest middle school in the district will become the newest,” he said.

Camacho said he has been researching the history of the 60-year-old facility and is doing his best to “preserve what’s here.”

“I know what a nice and beautiful community this is, so that’s important to me,” he said. “I’m a sentimental guy.”

Parking lots and the drop-off and pickup areas will be reconfigured to ease traffic.

“I think the city of Solana Beach is going to be really happy about that,” Dill said.

During construction, which is scheduled to take about two years, the lower athletic fields will serve as an interim campus. The district is working with city officials to use the field at La Colonia Park for physical education classes.

At Torrey Pines High School, the group was able to glimpse the start of a new weight room and four chemistry classrooms.

Dill said construction forced the relocation of the weight room, which was originally going to be housed in portables. But because the facility really only requires “four walls, a roof and a slab,” building a new one was less expensive than leasing temporary structures, he added.

General science classes will be renovated in the next phase.

Dill said during the Torrey Pines construction the district “created real estate out of thin air” by moving some dirt around. He said the school gained about an acre of land for a softball field at a cost of about $20,000.

The last time a bond was approved for district projects was 40 years ago to build Torrey Pines, Dill said.

The final stop on the tour was the campus of Canyon Crest Academy, where “middle school number 5” is being built on land adjacent to the campus.

Steel framing is up for the first academic building, which is slated to open in fall 2015 to about 250 seventh-graders. A multipurpose room, gymnasium and administrative building should be ready when the second semester begins in January 2016.

The campus is being planned to accommodate up to about 1,000 students. It will ease enrollment at Carmel Valley Middle School, which is currently the district’s largest middle school with about 1,500 students.

Superintendent Rick Schmitt said the plan is to cap enrollment at all middle schools at 1,000 students, although Earl Warren will likely stay at around 500 because of slower growth in that area.

New bleachers and baseball diamonds are being added at Canyon Crest, currently the district’s newest school, because land purchased for the new middle school encroached onto CCA’s fields.

There was early talk of the two campuses sharing athletic fields but Dill said that plan was changed.

Proposition AA is a $449 million bond initiative approved by voters in November 2012 to “provide safe, modern schools and prepare students for success in college and careers by repairing and upgrading outdated classrooms and schools … and supporting career training and math, science, and technology instruction with 21st Century instructional technology and facilities,” according to the district website.

Work is expected to continue in phases through 2017.

Dill said academic projects have been accelerated, while buildings that will house theaters, gymnasiums and multipurpose rooms have now been pushed back.

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