Rowe School gym to get a new roof

The R. Roger Rowe School gym.
(Karen Billing)

At its Feb. 11 meeting, the Rancho Santa Fe School District board approved a $50,000 expenditure to get the bid process going on a full roof replacement and repairs of the school gym. The total scope of the work is expected to cost $850,000, with work being completed over the summer.

“This is difficult because this is a big chunk of change,” said Debra Vaughn-Cleff of the architecture firm Studio WC, who has been tapped to spearhead the project.

Last year after considering a facelift on the 49-year-old gym’s fascia (the overhang between the building and the roof), the board requested further study of pairing the work with a full roof replacement. According to Vaughn-Cleff’s report, the newest portion of the roof is 20 years old and is now leaking in several places. “Aside from the patches, this roof is in horrible shape…You’re going to have to do something.”

Vaughn-Cleff said the gym’s beams and overhangs are not in structural disrepair but they look “awful” and are “as rotten as you can get.” Studio WC has proposed a process to remove the existing dry rot and aesthetically repair the beams and overhang.

The district has about $600,000 set aside for deferred maintenance on the gym and about $200,000 will need to be spent out of the district’s reserves on this project.

Past boards, as recently as 2018, have explored the possibility of going for a general obligation bond to modernize or rebuild a new gym; the district’s 2015 master plan update even included renderings for a new two and three-court gym estimated back then to cost $15-19 million.

Until last year, district staff had been operating under the assumption that the gym would not be there for long—no upgrades were done because the thought was that it would eventually be torn down.

The current board’s vision is that the gym is a long-term asset to be maintained. Over the summer, it was given a fresh coat of paint to match the rest of the campus and the board began discussions on the potential repairs.

“I don’t see any issues with that gym for a grade school and middle school district so I’m in support of repairing the roof, getting it looking nice and into proper repair,” said Clerk Kali Kim. “I’m disappointed that it’s gone so long without it.”

In 2018, the district received an assessment on the gym’s condition which found that the building was in “good to fair” overall condition and seismically safe. RSF School District President Jee Manghani said he would struggle to put down almost $1 million if the gym wasn’t going to last 10 years but with the repaired roof, he believes the gym is in adequate condition for the long run.

“The useful life is totally dependent on the maintenance,” Vaughn-Cleff said, noting with maintenance the gym could last another 20 years.