Since our April Fools addition, we have over added 200 new members; thank you. And to make it even easier, you can now join via credit card from the SRCA website [www.scrippsranch.org]. Please check it out and if you have not joined, please consider it. Also, please send us your email address so we can add you to our E-letter system for quick news flashes.
In last month’s Newsletter there was an article in dialogue with some inappropriate wording that could have been construed as derogatory. The SRCA Newsletter staff works very hard to allow free expression of ideas while also maintaining a policy that no individual or group will be singled out in this manner. Last month we missed this one and we would like to say we are sorry.
The following is the E-letter that we sent out to our members following an important school meeting on April 3. Please note there is a “correction” with respect to the options and their “ranking.” The first two options, the ones that the school board will act on remain the same. The options that could follow if these do not work are all “equal” at this time in the School District’s evaluation.
On Wednesday, April 4, Councilmember Brian Maienschein and the San Diego Unified School District requested a meeting to brief Scripps Ranch leaders on the status of our school situation. Councilmember Maienschein reaffirmed his position that the top priority for Scripps Ranch is the solution to our schools problem. Bruce Husson from the District then provided an update of where the School District is in the process. Mr. Husson’s full PowerPoint presentation is posted on our website [www.scrippsranch.org]; however, the following “executive summary” is provided to summarize the important points.
This summary is not an “endorsed” position of the SRCA nor any other community group, but rather an attempt to report what the School District presented and what steps they are recommending the School Board take.
Prior to December 2000, the School District was on a path to build a new middle school with a capacity of 1,800 students and then to convert the current middle school (capacity 1200) to an elementary school. This plan would solve our middle and elementary school needs. The proposed site of the new middle school was in the Scripps Ranch business park. That site was selected because: it was large enough (16+ acres), fully graded, ready for immediate construction, and, at the time, the owners were planning on converting from industrial to residential usage.
The School District commenced its Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which must be completed prior to any land acquisition by the District. In mid-late December 2000, while the EIR was out for review, the District and community were first made aware of Intel Corporation’s interest in the business park for industrial use. In late December, Intel purchased all the available land (30+ acres) in the business park. At the time of this purchase, the EIR process was not complete so the School District was not in a position to purchase the property.
This purchase by a company with Intel’s reputation caused the City, District, and community to reevaluate the school options to see if it were not possible to solve our school problems and keep Intel in our community. For the last several months, the City and the District have been evaluating various options that might allow them to meet the school needs without impacting the business park. These options were presented at the briefing on April 4.
The District and the City approached the problem as two “decisions.”
The first “decision” was to evaluate whether a new middle school could be built in Scripps Ranch without using the business park. This decision required a review of all the potential sites where a new middle school might be located. A minimum 16 net acre school campus was required. If a new middle school site could be found, then the current middle school would be converted into our 4th permanent elementary school.
Criteria for this evaluation were the cost and schedule projections for construction of the middle school in the business park. Cost is a key variable, as the District’s initial Prop MM planning for Scripps Ranch only included one new elementary school and some modest upgrades to our current middle school. The sites evaluated were: USIU east and west sites, Chabad School site, Davis Ranch, and Cypress Canyon. None of these sites are graded and ready for construction. The School District still retained its option to construct the middle school on either of two sites in the business park.
The second “decision” was to evaluate whether or not our current middle school could be expanded to handle the projected enrollment. This decision requires the School District not only evaluate the ability to expand our current middle school, but also determine where our permanent full sized 4th elementary school could be built.
To expand our current middle school to handle a population increase from 1,200 to 1,800 would require a significant land addition to the site. The only available land for this expansion is the Scripps Ranch Community Park, which is needed to meet our recreational needs. Thus the expansion option also required evaluation of recreational space, and how and where to provide replacement recreational space for any parkland lost to school construction.
The options for construction of the 4th elementary school, listed alphabetically are: Cypress Canyon Park, Fairbrook School site, and Spring Canyon site (current site of the modular EBS school). Again, cost and schedule were two key elements in reviewing this option, along with evaluation of recreational space impacts.
At the meeting, the School District reviewed the background and the options listed above. Cost and schedule were important; the projected cost of the initial business park plan was $66 million with a school availability of 2005 for the middle school and 2006 for the elementary school. These costs do not include the cost of the modular EBS School since that is needed for all options. It also was noted that these costs greatly exceed those originally planned for our community in the Prop MM budget (~ $36M).
From preliminary studies, the District concluded that building a new middle school was the best option to follow. However, this option would require a slip in school availability to 2006 for the middle school and 2007 for the elementary school. The only way to adhere to the current schedule would be to move today on the business park option, something that few really wanted to do.
They reported that there were two preferred alternative sites they wanted to study further, stating there was moderate risk that a new middle school could not be constructed on these two sites. They further stated that if these first two options prove not to be feasible, then other options would have to be carefully reviewed since there is disagreement on which option would be preferred. The options that the District has identified are:
- Build a new middle school on land located at the west end of USIU; or
- Build a new middle school on land located west of Cypress Canyon Park.
- In an unranked order:
- Build the middle school on the business park site;
- Expand Marshall on its current site, which would require construction of a 4th elementary school somewhere in Scripps Ranch;or
- Reconfigure Scripps Ranch elementary and middle school grade levels (K-4, 5-6, 7-8), which includes maintaining EB Scripps as a modular school at Spring Canyon, and building a new school on the Fairbrook site.
The Chabad site was dropped because of expansion plans that are going forward for that school. The USIU east site was dropped because of site terrain and access issues. The Davis Ranch site was dropped because of economics.
While there seems to be a consensus that options 1 and 2 are acceptable, there is a significant difference of opinion within the community about what the best option 3 would be if the two proposed sites are not determined to be feasible for a middle school.
Some in the community want to preserve the business park, and some in the community want to proceed with building a middle school in the business park. Obviously this is a topic that needs further discussion within the community. And if ultimately a new middle school is not built, then we will need to review both the Marshall build-out option as well as grade configuration options. Both of these would still require school construction, as we do not have sufficient capacity in Scripps Ranch to house our growing student population.
The District’s Recommendation
The District staff is recommending that the School Board approve starting the environmental review of options 1 and 2. This process is a long one, with completion estimated around August 2002; however, they felt there could be a preliminary “decision point” by September 2001. This preliminary decision point would give a strong indication of whether either option is a viable candidate worth pursuing further.
The SRCA will continue to monitor and report on the process as it moves forward, and keep you appraised via E-Letters and the Newsletter.