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Education

Solana Beach School Board OKs construction, design firms for school improvement projects

In preparing for a potential general obligation bond on the November ballot, the Solana Beach School Board recently approved three construction firms to work on various capital improvement projects.

After soliciting a request for proposals from contractor firms, the school district received responses from nine firms and eight of those firms submitted a proposal. Following interviews with the firms on June 20, district staff selected Balfour Beatty Construction, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and TELACU Construction Management.

Balfour Beatty Construction built the district’s nearly $28 million Solana Ranch Elementary School in Pacific Highlands Ranch. McCarthy Building Companies is currently rebuilding Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach. TELACU Construction Management has assisted the district in planning and constructed a middle school in Vista Unified School District.

With the board’s unanimous approval on June 30, staff will now negotiate fees associated with each project and task identified in the district’s Long-Range Facilities Master Plan.

The district initiated the master planning process in 2011 and the completed plan, which identifies capital improvement projects districtwide, was presented to the board in 2013.

According to the plan, Skyline School, which was constructed in 1955, needs to be reconstructed. Other aging campuses, such as 45-year-old Solana Vista and 30-year-old Solana Highlands, need to be modernized.

With a need for school improvements, the district is currently exploring whether to place a general obligation bond on the November ballot to pay for them. If Solana Beach School District moves forward with the bond and it passes, the district plans to start with the Skyline reconstruction.

In related news, the school board also unanimously approved a contract with architecture and engineering firm Lionakis. The contract, which is not to exceed $80,000 plus reimbursable expenses, would cover the firm’s design work for interim housing for Skyline students at Earl Warren Middle School.

District staff is working closely with San Dieguito Union High School District officials on a formal agreement that will allow Solana Beach School District to use the temporary campus that’s currently at Earl Warren as the middle school is under construction.

“Earl Warren, as they move out of that, we move into construction at Skyline,” Solana Beach School District Superintendent Terry Decker said. “Using that campus will require some changes, so we’ll need some architectural services to design those changes. It has to shift a bit.”

Lionikis is one of the four architectural firms in the district’s pool of approved architects for the capital improvement projects identified in the Long-Range Facilities Master Plan. Lionikis also designed the reconstruction of Earl Warren and the temporary campus that currently houses its middle school students.

“Using them makes a great deal of sense because they know the temporary campus and it also likely will reduce cost to us because they don’t have to familiarize themselves,” Decker said. “They can step right in, take over, design the changes and move forward.”

“If we use Earl Warren, it seems like a really practical solution to the problem,” agreed board member Richard Leib, adding that he’s heard concerns from some community members thinking that the district would relocate Skyline students from the Solana Beach school to campuses in Carmel Valley.

“There’s definitely a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “But this is a very good solution in my mind.”

Skyline is about a 10-acre campus, compared to Earl Warren’s roughly 40-acre site down the street.

Decker explained that a number of the relocatable buildings on the interim campus have to be removed, while others need to be shifted, after the Earl Warren project is complete. San Dieguito Union High School District also has to build a bioswale, a storm water runoff conveyance system that provides an alternative to storm sewers.

“So we can’t just walk in and use it as is,” Decker said. “We actually have to make some changes. That would still be far less expensive than building new interim housing.”

The district would utilize the space for a year while Skyline is being reconstructed, Decker said. Staff expects to bring a formal agreement to the board in August.