At the Dec. 14 Rancho Santa Fe School board meeting, board member Sarah Neal had requested a discussion regarding facilities planning and bond planning, recommending that the district consider hiring an independent firm to perform a facilities conditions assessment. She said her request was in response to a lot of questions she has about what the needs are for the school’s gym and questions she’s heard from the community about the district’s plans for the gym and a potential 2018 bond.
“I see this as a really big, immediate need before we move toward bond planning or hiring architects, I think it’s going to help us determine the best path and communicate the best path to our community,” Neal said. “The key for me is it’s a third party inspector, it’s not the architect who stands to benefit from the build or a bond planning company that stands to benefit from passing a bond.”
With direction from the board, Superintendent David Jaffe said he would prepare a request for proposals for an independent facilities conditions assessment to be brought back for the review at the Jan. 11, 2018 board meeting.
In January 2016 the then-RSF School board received a report that without any repairs, the useful life of the gym is five to 10 years.. Built in 1973, the building can continue to operate under the code under which it was constructed but any revisions to the structure would trigger an accessibility upgrade for it to be in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
A portion of the gym’s roof was repaired in fall 2016 after being damaged in a rain storm.
Neal said she thinks the scope of the facilities conditions assessment should be for the entire school campus, not just the gym. As the district doesn’t have a formal deferred maintenance plan for the campus, Neal said it would be useful for the assessment to include the whole campus to determine what costs could be over the next 10 years.
“That work has to be done before we start talking about building new facilities and bonds because we might have more expenses than we know for our current facilities,” Neal said.
Board member Scott Kahn said that there is a lot of value to an independent conditions assessment but he was concerned about the timeline if they do pursue a 2018 bond as well as about the board being able to act quickly if an acute need is identified.
“I’m worried that something may come back that is going to shock people in a bad way and then we’re in crisis and I don’t want to miss this window,” Kahn said.
The next steps in a bond process would include bringing on a bond consultant to help with community outreach, like a voter opinion poll, and finalizing the scope and priority of projects. For the June 2018 election, the board would have a tight timeline to call for the election by March 2018 and for the November election the board would have to call in August 2018.
As the district moves forward in the information-gathering stage for a bond, they are also in the process of hiring architects to update the district’s facilities master plan.
Request for proposals went out and firms were interviewed in late November by an advisory committee of Tyler Seltzer and Jon Yonemitsu. The six firms interviewed have been narrowed down to two and they will also be presented to the board as a potential action item in January.
Neal, who voted against the standing committee, said she would like to review the firms in January but not make a decision to hire one yet.
“I don’t think we should move forward on hiring an architect until we get the conditions assessment work done and put together more of a total plan of what we’re doing.” Neal said. “I think we’re still in information-gathering and before we start making decisions about hiring anybody we need to have an overall plan. I don’t want to defer the plan to the architect. We need to create the plan as a leadership team for the district.”
Board member Jon Yonemitsu said he agrees that more discussion needs to be had about facilities conditions but having the architects on the agenda as an action item would be a good thing, to see if there is board consensus on a firm who could move forward on designs at some point.