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Education

San Dieguito tour shows how campuses are benefiting from Prop AA funds

The new landscaping and J building at Torrey Pines High School.
The new landscaping and J building at Torrey Pines High School.
(Karen Billing)

The San Dieguito Union High School District let the public get an up-close look at some of the new classroom and school updates they are proudest of with a Prop AA tour on Oct. 8.

All the stops on the tour featured projects that were completed using funds from Prop AA, the $449 million general obligation bond passed by voters in 2012.

Many of the projects on the tour were completed over the summer, using the latest bond draw of $117 million. The tour was considered a meeting of the SDUHSD board as well as the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which ensures that all funds are used in support of projects included in the bond measure.

This is the district’s second tour of Prop AA projects. Last year’s tour visited new media centers at La Costa Canyon and Diegueno Middle School, the construction site at Pacific Trails Middle School and the stadium at Canyon Crest Academy.

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The tour visited one of four new chemistry classrooms at Torrey Pines.
The tour visited one of four new chemistry classrooms at Torrey Pines.
(Karen Billing)

This year, guests visited Torrey Pines High, Earl Warren Middle School’s Seahawk Village and the new Pacific Trails.

At Torrey Pines, the tour looked in on a new weight room and four new chemistry classrooms, and checked out the upgrades to classrooms in the main academic building.

The new weight room is a big upgrade from the old “bare bones” portable it used to be housed in, and is used by students in weight training class, PE and by sports participants. Though the tour checked out the room, it wasn’t one funded by Prop AA, but instead by generous donations from the Torrey Pines Foundation.

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Torrey Pines’ new “J” building toward the back of campus replaced the site of the old weight room. It features four new chemistry classrooms and a large prep area, giving teachers room to collaborate and to store materials and equipment.

“This is what the next generation of science classrooms are going to look like in the district,” Schmitt said.

While the typical classroom is 900 square feet, the labs are 1,400 square feet.

“It’s really roomy, so the kids never feel like they’re cramped,” said chemistry teacher Charlenne Falcis-Stevens.

The lab tables can be moved and reconfigured and the stools are comfortable; some even have backs. There are nine sinks around the back of the classroom and more electrical outlets.

“The No. 1 thing kids asked for in their classrooms was charging stations,” Schmitt said, noting there are now 40-plus power outlets in a classroom, compared with two or three in the 1974 design of the school.

The classroom’s windows allow the school to take advantage of natural light, with the light fixtures adjusting to how much light is coming in from the outside.

The main academic building, known as building B, has 80 classrooms. Fifty were renovated over the summer.

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“Air conditioning is an incredible bonus of the new classrooms,” said Assistant Principal Garry Thornton.

Carpet was taken out in parts of the building, and soon the halls, lighted by solar tubes and motion-sensor activated lighting, will have polished new floors.

While the rest of the classrooms are being renovated, students attend class in a cluster of portables.

Around the new buildings, the district also updated the landscaping to be more drought-tolerant.

At Earl Warren, the 60-year-old campus is set to be demolished. Demolition started last week and an official groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16.

“Our oldest middle school will soon become our newest middle school,” said Assistant Superintendent Eric Dill.

Guests toured Seahawk Village, where students will attend school until the new campus is complete in fall 2017.

“The Village is really a positive place for the kids,” said Principal Adam Camacho. “The academic delivery is not sacrificed by the interim buildings.”

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Camacho said the portable classroom village is perhaps even a step up from the old campus, with improved technology like wi-fi and the big bonus of air conditioning in all of the classrooms.

The village is home to 600 students and includes a multipurpose room, science classrooms and a main quad with covered lunch tables. The campus is also secured by fences, while the old campus was much more open.

“I’m really proud of the transition down here; the staff was ready to go on day one,” Camacho said. “It’s a safer, more cozy campus that the kids are really loving.”

As Dill explained, the new campus will be anchored off the joint-use Solana Beach Library, with which the district has enjoyed a great partnership.

Lionakis, the architects who designed the new Pacific Trails Middle School, have designed the new Earl Warren. Instead of a five-level campus, the new Earl will be two levels with the upper level featuring the bulk of the classrooms.

Guests were wowed by the renderings of the new school, featuring beachy details like surfboards on a sleek, modern new campus.

All information about Prop AA is available on the district’s website at sduhsd.net.


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