Rancho Santa Fe School District board approves proposal to gather community feedback on possible new school gym

By Karen Billing

The Rancho Santa Fe School District Board of Trustees approved Nov. 7 a proposal from Public Policy Strategies to gather feedback from district residents on the possibility of building a new school gym. The services approved are not to exceed $25,000.

At the meeting the board reviewed the different options available to re-do the gym, presented by Debra Vaughn-Cleff of Webb Cleff Architecture and Engineering. The board is still waiting to receive construction cost estimates for a new gym; to help pay for it the board might consider going for a general obligation bond.

RSF School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney said the board members might need to hold a special board meeting in December to figure out how they wants to proceed, looking at their options and the costs attached to the options.

Delaney said the “pinnacle” of what they are looking for in the gym is three high school-size courts, space for dance and wrestling programs, space for concessions and ticketing, changing rooms, coaches offices, student and public restrooms, and storage.

The ideal program square footage needed would be 43,500 square feet. A three-court gym would be about 18,500 square feet and a two-court gym would be about 13,000 square feet.

Vaughn-Cleff said they looked at building the gym on all school-owned property from the existing site to the hardcourts by the playing field, even the district-owned Dacus property on El Fuego, currently used for staff parking.

Vaughn-Cleff said that they had thought the option to build on the hardcourts would be less expensive but it actually requires costly drilled piers to build.

“It also is just huge and would tower above adjacent buildings,” Vaughn-Cleff said. “I think you would have a real struggle with the community.”

Building on the Dacus property was not considered a good option by the board as it costs the school about 60 parking spaces, would require a bridge to the main campus, and would require an environmental impact report.

The options the board will consider most seriously include a new two-court gym at the existing site with a lobby, changing rooms, storage bleachers and a mezzanine for parents to watch from above with a separate 1,600-square-foot dance and wrestling room located on the hardcourts. The option results in a loss of 10 to 12 parking spaces.

A three-court gym in the existing location would cost the school 28 parking spaces and a dance and wrestling building would block the entrance to the library, but would give the school the three courts Delaney said they would benefit most from.

The board will also look into an option proposed by board trustee Richard Burdge to leave the gym as it stands and build the changing rooms, dance and wrestling space, and storage on the hardcourts.