New Marshall Campus Update

The Marshall Facilities Finance Committee consists of members from the Scripps Ranch and Miramar Ranch North planning boards, as well as Scripps Ranch Recreation Council and Scripps Ranch Civic Association (SRCA) representatives. The committee's mission continues to involve maximizing San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and community collaborative efforts to achieve the best campus facilities for our middle school children no later than September 2006.

This must be done within the budgetary confines of Prop MM, which funded the original concept of moving the existing undersized Marshall campus to a site on the western portion of the existing Alliant International University (AIU) campus. AIU will continue as our community neighbor and is currently evaluating relocation and expansion plans on the eastern side of the campus parcel, which would still involve sharing the current Willow Creek and Pomerado Roads entrance.

At the beginning of 2003 a community-based Design Task Force participated in a four-month series of workshops with SDUSD's architects and planners and the current Marshall administration. The goal was to identify a preferred design layout given the guidance of the SDUSD Prop MM Middle School Education Specifications and the site-specific topographical elevation challenges.

The SDUSD has now acquired the parcel from AIU. The buyer and seller were, however, unable to agree on a purchase price. The acquisition was therefore accomplished utilizing the eminent domain process, which allows certain jurisdictions such as school districts the ability to take possession of a property prior to subsequent legal decisions valuing the final purchase price of the land. This unknown purchase price is one of several budgetary issues impacting the final design of the new campus.

With the land now in the SDUSD's possession, the district has adamantly indicated that the new campus will be ready for a September 2006 opening. A "design/build" contractor bid is in the final stages of being decided. Actual construction is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2005, after obtaining required approvals from the State Architect's Department during 2004.

In the interim there are several important issues that the community and the SDUSD are diligently working on. As part of SDUSD's Prop MM budgetary challenges, including escalating land costs, several Marshall campus design attributes have been reduced in scope and will not be part of opening day. However, with a Scripps Ranch "community contribution" of funds, similar to a precedent witnessed previously at La Jolla High School, these "scope reduction" items are still possible for inclusion into the initial design.

Key scope reduction items from SDUSD's Prop MM Middle School Education Specifications include a 19% reduction in classroom space, as well as the following: reduced band/choral room sizes; reduced parking capacity; deletion of a performing arts theater facility; and, deletion of 16 of the planned 24 showers for the PE facility.

In recent meetings with SDUSD employees and our school board representative, Katherine Nakamura, the committee has explored a number of ways to bridge the financing gaps and maximize the inclusion of these scope reduction items. Potential use of Scripps Ranch community funds exist as follows:

  • Special Park Fees, which are limited to Joint Usage community benefits within the context of the city and the Scripps Ranch Recreation Council and planning board;
  • Facility Fees, which are limited to capital asset items on city-owned property; and,
  • Settlement Fees, which require approval of all Scripps Ranch community groups, but have fewer limitations than the other sources.

The most obvious potential collaboration exists within the Park Fees area, if an acceptable Joint Use agreement can be worked out between the SDUSD and the city that's acceptable to the community. This would consist of the community funding to allow for proper turfing, irrigation, and lighting to allow for recreation league usage in the evening hours.

Other opportunities exist in working with the SDUSD to contribute Facility Fees toward potential traffic mitigation improvements to the Willow Creek and Pomerado Roads entrance, as well as working with the SDUSD to eliminate the approximate $2 million in city-required costs to connect the site to Pomerado Road, east of the Willow Creek Road intersection. Finally, several cost-reduction and fundraising avenues are being explored to potentially support capital assets on the new campus site.

These avenues could potentially supplement the recently disclosed 19% reduction in classroom space, from the Design Task Force's agreed upon 1190 square feet (990 sf + 200 sf pods) to just presented plans that now call for reduction to 960 sf classrooms, in addition to the removal of these pods--small adjoining group instructional rooms. It should be noted that this would result in the SDUSD having middle school classrooms the same size as K-5 classrooms, an item that will bear further discussion between the community and the SDUSD over the next 30 days.

The Marshall Facilities Finance Committee will continue to meet with the SDUSD on several fronts: exploring avenues available to mitigate the classroom size reduction; negotiating a Joint Use agreement for the PE area; and, exploring opportunities to bridge financing gaps for the theater, parking lots, and PE showers. Committee updates will continue to be presented monthly at the public meetings of the SRCA, Scripps Ranch Planning Group, Miramar Ranch North Planning Committee, Scripps Ranch Recreation Council, and the SRCA Schools Committee. The SRCA Newsletter will also bring you updates.

Gordon Boerner, Chair