San Dieguito board approves office upgrades

A conceptual rendering of the new board room in the district office.

The San Dieguito Union High School District board unanimously supported the renovation of its district office building at a special meeting on Aug. 19.

After exploring all of its options, including selling the property or purchasing a new office building, and reviewing other district facilities’ needs, the board gave direction to move forward with the enhanced $7.8 million update of the building at 710 Encinitas Boulevard.

“Thank you on behalf of everyone that works in that office,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas, tearfully.

About 75 district employees work in the building that is over 40 years old and Douglas was emotional in describing some of the conditions that the employees experience.

She said the elevators and bathrooms are not ADA compliant, portions of the upstairs offices can reach 87 degrees due to the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system not working and there are no operable windows.

Upgrades will include repairing the building’s roof, foundation, HVAC system and making some exterior improvements such as adding windows that open. ADA-related issues related to the elevator, stairways and restrooms will be resolved.

The enhanced scope approved by the board would include a redesign of the board meeting room, dedicated spaces for closed session and confidential student and personnel meetings, collaborative workstations for staff and a new front lobby.

John Addleman, executive director of planning services, said the funds to modernize the office building would come from state reimbursement for projects that have already been completed. Those funds can only be used on capital projects. Addleman said the district has received or will receive in the future about $38 million in funding from the state.

The district office project will now be put out to bid and the board could potentially approve a guaranteed maximum price in December or January. It will also need to be reviewed by the city of Encinitas.

In approving the district office project, SDUHSD President Mo Muir acknowledged how hard the employees work for students but said she had been hesitant to approve the expanded renovations as past superintendents had differing opinions on the direction of the district office.

“If we upgrade it, there would be no reason to have that discussion again,” she said.

Her decision to move forward was also based on making sure there was enough money set aside for a district pool: “I want to make sure this pool happens.”

Since 2014, the parent-led SDUHSD Aquatics Committee has been advocating for building a district pool or pools for aquatics athletes and physical education for all students. All board members have listed an aquatics facility as a priority.

A 2020 study estimated the cost of a pool would be about $10.7 million. According to Addleman, the interim superintendent’s pool committee is still working on identifying the site or sites for a pool and conducting additional analysis, such as exploring a joint-use or community partnership. Addleman said they could potentially use state reimbursement funding for the pool or pools—an additional $10 to $20 million could be available in the next three to five years.

Facilities needs
Prop AA projects continue to progress in the district including the new Torrey Pines High School makerspace, computer-aided design (CAD) lab and food service building currently under construction. The former black box theater was torn down in the spring to make way for the new building, which is expected to be complete in December. Oak Crest Middle School classroom renovations were completed over the summer.

Of the $449 million Prop AA bond, there is $84 million left to be bonded against, drawing out to 2035.

The district has $37 million in remaining “must do” Prop AA projects that resolve compliance and safety issues. Those projects include modernizing the Mosiac Café at San Dieguito, modernizing the gym at Torrey Pines and renovating the quad at Carmel Valley Middle School.

There is about $46 million in “should do” projects which include a new black box theater at Canyon Crest Academy and a new multi-purpose athletic building at Oak Crest. A new art classroom building at Torrey Pines is also currently in the design stages.

As the Prop AA project list was developed 12 years ago, Addleman said the board will need to revisit some projects and see if they are still a high priority. One such project the board will need to consider is a proposed new two-story classroom building at La Costa Canyon High School that would replace 13 portables on the campus. Addleman said that only two of the 13 portables are currently used as classroom space and a new building may not be needed as future enrollment for the school remains flat and the school will have excess capacity.

In addition to the pool, other projects that are board member priorities include modernizations at Carmel Valley Middle and La Costa Canyon and a new all-weather track at Earl Warren Middle School.