Rancho Santa Fe School District considers whether to modernize or rebuild school gym


By Karen Billing

The Rancho Santa Fe School District is weighing the decision to modernize or rebuild its school gym, making room for additional courts, as well as space for wrestling and dance programs.

At its Oct. 3 meeting, the board looked at a facilities needs assessment for the gym and the options available for the gym to be renovated or demolished with a new building in its place.

While the current building can continue to operate under the code under which it was constructed, any revisions to the structure will trigger an accessibility upgrade for it to be in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

According to Debra Vaughn Clef, of Webb Cleff Architecture and Engineering, the total project cost for modernization would be about $8-10 million.

Modernization is possible, but expensive, Vaughn-Cleff said — it comes with a lot of work. Structurally, the roof would need to be pulled back and beams reinforced, and the foundation would have to be made significantly larger.

To comply with ADA, they would need to get proper hardware and clearances for exits, new stairs, a ramp from the lobby to gym floor, toilets need to be reconfigured, a better path of travel through hallways and to bathrooms, vertical lifts, assisted listening equipment and new signage.

A new facility, depending on how big it is, would cost about $10-15 million — $20 million for a more elaborate design.

At the November meeting, the board plans to vote on a letter of agreement from Public Policy Strategies to assist the district in informing residents about a proposal to rebuild the gym and gather feedback for a proposal — the cost of the proposal would not exceed $30,000.

The new gym would require a bond approved in an election with 55 percent of the community’s vote.

The shortest timeline would allow for occupancy of a new gym in August 2016 if the district paid out of pocket for design as it progressed, risking the results of a bond in the June 2014 election. Other timelines include designs after bonds — if the board went for a bond in the June 2014 election, occupancy could be January 2017. A November 2014 bond could put them in a new gym by August 2017, factoring all the design and review processes.

Built in 1974, the current gym is 10,470 square feet. The last big project was adding the new floor in 2007.

“It has been kept in beautiful condition,” said Vaughn-Cleff. “It’s an excellent facility.”

According to district superintendent Lindy Delaney, the needs for the gym are for more sports courts, locker rooms, wrestling room/dance room, food service prep for middle school that could be combined with concessions and storage for administration, the PAC, science and gym.

The board has options in the number of courts for the gym.

One option is a new facility with two high school-size courts and one competition court, seating for 500 in retractable bleachers, coaching offices and changing rooms.

Another option bumps the structure up to a 22,000-square-foot, three-court facility.

Delaney said three courts would be better for program use.

“It would serve us better to get three courts than rebuild what we have,” Delaney said.

Option three may include the necessity of additional acquisition of land. Delaney said they have explored the possibility of teaming with the RSF Community Center to create a shared facility and with the Association for a permanent home for the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol.

The challenges of a new facility would be the building’s footprint as it is locked in by the current campus building, parking lot, black top, community center and library. If they built into the parking lot, Delaney said they would lose all but one row of parking spaces.

The district also has to consider building heights and the impact on neighbors as a new building might be 9 feet taller than the existing structure, around 31 feet.

At the next school board meeting, the board will talk more about programs, possible locations. The interest of the community center and Association, as well as a bond survey.