By Kristina Houck
As kids kicked back this summer, San Dieguito Union High School District kicked off the first phase of its complete reconstruction of Earl Warren Middle School.
The $41 million project is made possible by the passage of Proposition AA.
Voters approved the $449 million bond measure in November 2012, funding upgrades and repairs at the district’s North County campuses. Because Earl Warren is 60 years old, however, district officials opted to rebuild rather than renovate.
“With Earl Warren being our oldest middle school, it presented the most challenges in terms of modernization,” said Eric Dill, district associate superintendent of business services. “It was determined that for the same or less money we could demolish the school and build a brand new one.”
The district launched the project in August with the demolition of Warren Hall, the school’s multipurpose room, as well as the blacktop behind the campus and the cafeteria, known as “Lola’s Place.”
Design plans are being finalized for Warren Hall, which will be repurposed as a student union and will feature wireless Internet and spaces for project-based learning as well as small group instruction, according to the school’s master plan. The 2,444-square-foot space will also offer two classrooms for physical education and supplement existing public library services.
The blacktop area and cafeteria will become a data center.
In addition, the district is upgrading the school’s utility infrastructure. Currently, one utility pole on Stevens Avenue is supplying all power to the school, Dill said.
“We realized that we needed to upgrade that because of all the work we’re going to be doing,” Dill said. “The power infrastructure is also 60 years old and inadequate. We’re getting a jump start on that so the construction process and moving the kids to the portable classrooms goes much more smoothly.”
The district is working with architectural firm Lionakis and San Diego-based construction company McCarthy Building Companies. The school’s master plan was created in 2011, but design, details and timelines are still being finalized, Dill said. Still, he expects the rebuild to take about two years.
The second stage of construction is tentatively planned for fall 2015, when students will be moved into portables and classrooms will be reconstructed. The new classrooms will all meet the district’s new standard of approximately 1,200 square feet of space.
“The original idea is that no more than half of the kids would be in portables,” Dill said. “In the first year, half the kids would be in the older buildings. In the second year, half the kids would be in new buildings and half the kids would be in portables. And after two years, we would have a brand new school.”
Set to be complete in the fall of 2017, the new campus will total 56,120 square feet on the 20-acre site. According to the master plan, the school will enroll 500 students, down from the school’s currently more than 700 students.
“It’s going to be a beautiful campus,” Dill said. “To have a brand new middle school in Solana Beach that’s going to be comparable to our other middle schools is very exciting and something the community deserves.”
For more about Prop AA and the district’s projects, visit www.sduhsd.net.