School board approves new budget for Solana Vista rebuild

A rendering of the new Solana Vista School.

The Solana Vista School rebuild is ready to go as the Solana Beach School District board approved the scope, timeline and budget for construction to kick off in June 2020. The updated campus on Santa Victoria will be all one-story with warm stucco, stone accents and trellises, and a design that aims to provide better learning environments for students, preserve the play field and improve parking lot and traffic circulation.

The district faced challenges with construction costs escalating 12 percent since the Measure JJ bond program was adopted in 2016—the project was originally proposed to cost $35 million and had grown to $40.7 million. The district and board weighed several options to make up the shortfall including eliminating classrooms, solar arrays or the multi-purpose room.

At the board’s Nov. 14 meeting, SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said staff would not be recommending eliminating the scope of the project and instead came up with savings of $712,448 by making value engineering decisions.

The savings include reducing the footprint of the multi-purpose room by eliminating the lobby and reducing storage space, reducing interior corridors from 14 to nine feet, reducing the student service kitchen by 300 square feet and reducing the square footage of the music room.

“I’m very pleased with the value engineering and the cost savings,” said SBSD Clerk Debra Schade. “These seem very reasonable and I don’t see anything that has a negative impact on staff or instruction for kids. Everything seems much more in parity with the other sites.”

In increasing the Solana Vista budget to $40 million, the board wanted to ensure that sufficient funding was available for all Measure JJ projects and that taxpayers will get the projects that they voted for.

Accounting for new escalation percentages, the district has identified a budget of $109.9 million for remaining JJ projects like the Solana Santa Fe modernization, the Carmel Creek School modernization and improvements at Solana Pacific School. While there is $104.6 million available in Measure JJ funds, the district has an additional $16.6 million in community facilities district funds, developer fees and its capital projects funds.

“We will be able to complete our building program as identified with making up the difference for those three schools,” Brentlinger said, noting every school and every project has its appropriate level of escalation included in its overall budget.

Remaining items on the timeline before the district breaks ground on Solana Vista include a California Geological Survey review and approval as well as Coastal Commission and Division of State Architect approval.

The new school is expected to open in August 2021. During the one-year construction, students will be housed at Skyline and Solana Highlands Schools.