RSF School board discusses Rowe gym upkeep

The gym fascia, the overhang just below the roof, will be repaired over the summer.
(Karen Billing)

The R. Roger Rowe School gym will see some repairs over the summer as the Rancho Santa Fe School District board considers additional improvements to the building, the oldest facility on campus.


The R. Roger Rowe School gym will see some repairs over the summer as the Rancho Santa Fe School District board considers additional improvements to the building, the oldest facility on campus.

At the April 15 board meeting, the board approved issuing a bid for repair of the gym fascia, the overhang between the building and the roof, as President Kali Kim said it is in major disrepair.

During a discussion about deferred maintenance projects on campus at the May 14 meeting, the board said in planning for the future the gym should be considered a long-term asset that the district needs to maintain. The board said they would like to see a cost analysis done of options such as painting it to match the rest of the campus, stucco improvements, replacing the windows as well as replacing the roof.

“I’m not in favor of doing anything to the gym other than a facelift,” Vice President Jee Manghani said.

Conversations about potentially modernizing or rebuilding the gym have popped up multiple times since the new campus opened in 2010. Built in 1973, the gym was built as an open air structure with no walls, just the roof and carpet floor. Named for the Holcomb family, it was built with money from private donors for the joint-use of the community center and the school. Walls were added later and the new floor installed in 2007.

A general obligation bond to finance a new school gym was pitched in 2014 but a community survey showed there was low support and it was tabled. In 2016 the board received a report that without any repairs, the useful life of the gym was five to 10 years and the following year the board again began exploring the possibility of a gym bond.

In 2018, the board received a report on the gym’s condition, with the assessment firm EMG finding that the building was in “good to fair” overall condition. The report stated that the 44-year-old roof would need to be repaired and although the current code mandates the installation of fire sprinklers on new buildings, the building was compliant with its present smoke detection and fire alarm system. A seismic study was also conducted, concluding that the risk of loss is very low.

The board shelved the idea of a bond for the gym in 2018.

“Structurally the building is in good condition, the only thing is that front fascia,” said Jeff Pitt, the district’s director of maintenance and operation. “The entire roof is probably due.”

Currently the district has $438,402 in reserves set aside for the gym. While the bid is not in yet, the fascia repair is expected to be about $52,000.

A portion of the gym’s roof was repaired in 2016 after being damaged in a rain storm and since then it has been patched. Pitt said the roof is not leaking and the district could get another two years out of it—he expected that the district would tackle the roof next summer.

As far as the long-term planning, Pitt said that he had been operating under the assumption that the gym would not be there for long. He said it had always been stated to him the building would eventually be torn down, so no upgrades were done.

Per the existing district facilities master plan done in 2015: “It is the recommendation of this master plan to either replace or modernize the facility in the near future.”

“Because it had never been expressed differently to me, in my mind we just need to keep the building looking nice and we just have to get a couple more years out of it,” Pitt said. “So if our goal is to keep it in good shape for a long period of time, that’s a very different outlook for me to take than I’ve had in all the years I’ve been here.”

During the board’s discussion, Kim said she was disappointed that there wasn’t the foresight to consider the cost-savings to replace the roof at the same time as the fascia if it was known that the roof was an immediate need. She said it was “poor stewardship” on the administration’s part to not bring up the roof conditions prior to going out to bid on the fascia project.

“Personally, that gym’s not going anywhere,” Kim said. “From my point of view as a board member we’re not in any position to think about rebuilding so I think it would behoove us to keep in good repair what we have.”