Solana Santa Fe School modernization moves ahead

A proposed option for a two-story building on the modernized Solana Santa Fe.

The Solana Beach School District will begin the community outreach process on the modernization of Solana Santa Fe School in Rancho Santa Fe. The first community meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in the school’s fine arts building, providing a chance for the public to provide input on the layout of the refreshed school campus.

“We very much looking forward to the modernization of Solana Santa Fe, said Principal Matt Frumovitz at the school board’s Sept. 12 meeting. “When modernizing a school, there are always going to be challenges, however, I believe the end result will make our wonderful school even better.”

A design team for the modernization project has met four times to develop potential options for the site layout. According to Caroline Brown, executive director of capital programs, the design team is made up of community members, teachers, staff, two school board members and representatives from the County of San Diego’s traffic and flood control divisions.

The school currently has 26 classrooms, including rooms in “end of life” portable buildings on campus. The plan is to replace the portable classrooms with permanent structures, resulting in a 28-classroom campus that will house 460 students. The modernization plans also include an expansion of the undersized kitchen and food service area, re-location of the north driveway, updating the administration office for security and efficiency, re-configuring the kindergarten classrooms and play area, and increasing parking and improving traffic flow into and out of the school.

The modernization will be the district’s next big Measure JJ project after the Solana Vista School rebuild that will begin construction next summer. Depending on the scope of the project, Brown said they are looking to modernize the Solana Santa Fe campus during the summer of 2021 and 2022.

At the school on El Apajo Road, Brown said they are dealing with a site that is small in terms of buildable acres due to its proximity to a hillside and a drainage culvert. Plans for the modernization involve paving over part or all of the culvert to add parking spaces and queuing space for drop-off and pick-up.

The school’s original main building was built in 1993 and an additional eight relocatable classrooms were added in 1994. In 1997, the school added the eight-classroom building C, a separate building adjacent to the fields and school garden.

Solana Santa Fe also serves students from Pacific Highlands Ranch and it is projected that enrollment could reach 460 students while the area’s development is established. Currently, there are 308 students enrolled in the school.

Brown said the biggest driving factor in the modernization design is solving the traffic ingress and egress issues.

“The more we maximize parking and stacking, the better off we will be in our overall plan because San Dieguito Road and El Apajo are so impacted,” Brown said.

In its meetings, the design team has explored both one-story and two-story options for the campus layout.

A proposed single-story layout for the Solana Santa Fe modernization.

The single story option proposes a new eight classroom building directly in front of building C and covering the culvert to bring to 20 new parking spaces and room for 38 more cars for traffic circulation. This option has a small impact on the field space and provides more hardscape for play—the board members have stressed that playing space is a priority for students.

The second story option would be a two-story 10 classroom building located where the two portable buildings are currently. The option adds 21 parking spaces and 31 vehicles to pick-up and drop-off queue and does not impact the field or hardscape.

Board member Richard Leib noted that it will be important to get community input regarding a potential two-story building.

As the site is difficult to lay out, Brown said one suggestion from the design team was to eliminate the C building on campus and replace it with a new building—that suggestion would add $5 million to the project budget. Three potential options were presented eliminating the building and adding one- and two-story classroom buildings.

Board member Gaylin Allbaugh was opposed to the options that removed the classroom building, “This is not a demolition/rebuild, this is a modernization,” said Allbaugh.

Allbaugh said she would have a hard time approving spending an additional $5 million of Measure JJ funds at the site when the district has other schools like Carmel Creek to modernize.

Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said she would take the board’s direction back to the design team: that they value preserving play space at the school and maximizing the egress and ingress while being cognizant of the budget that has been allocated.

More information on the modernization project can be found at under the Measure JJ tab.