New renderings released of Solana Santa Fe School modernization

A rendering for the new front of Solana Santa Fe.

The Solana Beach School District board is expected to vote on the scope, timeline and budget for the Solana Santa Fe School modernization at its September meeting. The renovation of the Rancho Santa Fe school is the district’s next big Measure JJ project after the Solana Vista School rebuild which is currently underway.

At the board’s Aug. 13 meeting, they got a peek at the first renderings for the new front of campus, new two-story classroom building and a retaining wall on the north side of the campus—it will be 22 feet tall at its highest and the plan is to landscape it with vines. The retaining wall supports a new parking lot on that side of the school, adjacent to a reconfigured kindergarten play area.

Parking campus-wide will be increased from 40 to 74 spaces. The large drainage culvert on the south end of campus will be paved over and there will be significant enhancements to the queue to help improve the traffic flow into and out of the school.

A rendering of a new retaining wall on the renovated Solana Santa Fe campus.

The project has been budgeted for $16.2 million, however, it is tracking close to $21 million. It will be funded from $10 million from Measure JJ, a potential $5.7 million from Crosby community facilities district (CFD) funding and the balance from the Pacific Highlands Ranch CFD.

With the renovation, the front of the school has been reimagined to make it a higher profile entry element that matches the architectural style of the neighborhood. The renovation of the administration area pushes the lobby out and moves reception to the front. A door will be added to secure the kindergarten area and improvements will be made to the principal’s office, staff work spaces and the nurse’s office.

The campus’ eight portable classrooms will be removed and replaced with the new two-story, eight-classroom building.

According to Caroline Brown, the district’s director of capital programs, the new timeline anticipates the first phase starting in April 2021 with phase two beginning September/October of 2021. The project is expected to be complete by fall 2022.

At the meeting, SBSD board Vice President Debra Schade shared some concerns about having construction ongoing for an entire school year rather than done during the summers.

“It’s a very compact campus and I’m worried that we will get push-back from not just parents but staff about the level of projects we’re trying to do on that compressed site while we have students navigating between buildings,” Schade said. “I’m thinking of little people and a big project.”

A rendering of the new two-story classroom building at Solana Santa Fe.

According to Michelle Reiner, with Balfour Beatty Construction, the idea was to get in early to build the retaining wall over the three spring months and complete the north parking lot over the summer as construction would then move to the other side of campus in the fall. Brown said they plan to build a sound wall to minimize the impact of construction on the relocatable classrooms that are holding instruction.

SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said they will `return to the board next month with a more detailed construction timeline.