Academic, athletic upgrades coming to several San Dieguito campuses

The recently completed makerspace on the Torrey Pines campus.
(Copyright of SDUHSD)

The district is planning to build a new pool at Torrey Pines High School


The San Dieguito Union High School District board held a facilities workshop on Feb. 6, going over school improvements such as modernized classrooms with the latest audio-visual technology, athletic program enhancements, air conditioning system upgrades, solar installations and a long-anticipated district pool, proposed for the Torrey Pines High School campus.

John Addleman, interim associate superintendent of business services, walked the board through projects that have been completed since the last facilities workshop in 2021and the lengthy list of campus amenities still to come.

The district’s own office building on Encinitas Boulevard is in the middle of a major $8.8 million upgrade with a new roof, replacement of the failing exterior including new windows, the correction of internal ADA issues and a brand new board room. District staff is expected to move back into the building by August.

One of the district’s more ambitious facilities projects is the Torrey Pines High School athletic improvements project, which will start this summer, aiming to be completed in fall 2024.

As part of the project, the school gym will be modernized including a seismic retrofit, the addition of two team rooms and giving the locker rooms a fresh update. In order to resolve Title IX issues, the softball field which has fallen into disrepair will be improved and synthetic turf will be installed on the freshman ball fields to provide for multi-sport flexibility. The asphalt tennis courts are also scheduled to be replaced with post-tension concrete and lit for evening practices and matches. The $13.8 million in improvements will come from Prop AA and Mello Roos funds from the local special tax district.

As part of the athletic improvements project, Addleman said the district hopes to begin construction on the proposed $14 million new pool and accompanying pool house in November. The $14 million comes from Fund 40, which is composed of reimbursement funds from the state that can only be used on capital projects. The district also used Fund 40 dollars for the district office upgrade and there is currently about $20 million of unassigned dollars in the fund.

After a pool feasibility study was performed, last year the previous board committed to setting aside funds for a pool in the north and a pool in the south, something the parent-led SDUHSD Aquatics Committee has been advocating for since 2014.

The pool still needs the board’s approval of the maximum price. The board had some discussion about making sure they are not overlooking other facilities areas that need to be funded.

“It would not be appropriate to start building a pool until we know approximately how much it’s going to cost to run it and that we have the funds to do that year after year,” commented board Vice President Jane Lea Smith.

Based on the preliminary design in the feasibility study, operational costs were projected to be $243,525, not taking into account rental income. The district currently spends $185,000 annually to rent pool facilities for its 12 aquatic sports teams, squeezing into time slots very early in the morning and late at night.

The district’s San Dieguito Sports Complex on Calle Barcelona has been proposed as the site for the pool in the north, however, the district is still exploring a potential partnership with the city of Encinitas or the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Addleman said that there is also still interest to find a way for the pool to be built on the La Costa Canyon campus. At LCC, it would likely need to be smaller pool and would require taking away from recently built improvements such as Maverick Park or the outdoor amphitheater area, unless it was sited far away from the athletic complex.

Solar, SDA parking and fitness complex for La Costa Canyon
Starting later this year at Diegueno Middle School will be classroom modernization (new A/V tech, flooring and paint) and construction is currently ongoing on a new four-classroom art complex at Torrey Pines.

Pending approval from the city of Encinitas, the district hopes to finally begin work this summer on restoring the parking lot at San Dieguito Academy. The district has heard complaints about the lack of student parking and once the project is complete it will bring over 80 spaces off Nardo Road where the Sunset campus used to be housed. The $1.2 million project will also include a new hardcourt for PE with a new basketball court, outdoor volleyball and a handball wall.

This year the district will also build new solar system arrays on the Pacific Trails, Torrey Pines and Diegueno campuses. In 2021, the district entered into an agreement with ForeFront Power to design, construct and install solar facilities at five of its campuses, helping to meet the state’s energy conservation goals and help reduce the rising costs of energy. New solar projects are planned to be installed at Earl Warren, Oak Crest and San Dieguito in 2024.

A new fitness center complex will also begin construction this year at La Costa Canyon.

“This one I’m especially happy about,” said Addleman as this is the third time the district has tried to get this project off the ground.

Original Prop AA plans were for a fieldhouse but the financing didn’t work out, he said. The district identified an underutilized hardcourt area on campus and they will build a new weight room (currently the weight room is housed in portables) with components of a fieldhouse around it, including a regulation basketball court, outdoor volleyball and 30 yards of turf for training. They will reserve an area for the future expansion of a sand volleyball court for girls beach volleyball and the installation of pickleball courts. The $6.6 million worth of work will also include expanding the dance room in the gym.

In 2024, the district is projecting to begin more classroom modernization at Diegueno, improvements to the quad at Carmel Valley Middle School, and a gym and locker room modernization at San Dieguito. The district is also planning hardcourt improvements at the San Dieguito Sports Complex, such as adding pickleball courts.

According to Addleman, there is an estimated $109,365,910 in facility funding requests and needs from across the district. Looking ahead, the board may consider future funding solutions such as a new general obligation bond or a school facilities improvement district (SFID) bond, which allows the district to levy bonds with only a portion of the area it serves to generate funds for the district’s unfunded needs.

Improving how the district handles deferred maintenance also remains a board priority, as parents have complained about campus infrastructure being in disrepair and the lack of funding for basic upkeep. Last year the board approved increasing the amount set aside annually for deferred maintenance from $250,000 to $1 million.