Board pays to improve school

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Association board of directors voted Aug. 6 to provide $132,000 to the new R. Roger Rowe School renovation, guaranteeing to enhance the exterior portion of the building that will be visible to the community. The decision to provide funds sets a new precedent and came with much debate. Board members were divided in their support, but in the end, the decision to pay to beautify the school prevailed.
Earlier this year, the Art Jury made suggestions for nonstructural changes to help the new school buildings conform to the architectural style that exists in the village. The changes were well-received by the school board; however, the costs to implement the proposed changes would be $264,000. The school could only find funds for half that amount without dipping into reserves set aside for contingencies, so the school board asked if the Association was willing to guarantee the remaining 50 percent.
Andrew Wright, consulting architect to the Art Jury, showed the board of directors the original plans for the school as well as the revised plans as suggested by the Art Jury. “It’s a friendlier building, more in-tuned to the village,” Wright said. All directors agreed that the revised plan was an aesthetic improvement, but couldn’t agree on whether the Association members should have to pay for it.
Director Deb Plummer felt strongly that the Association should pay. “The revision is at the request of the Art Jury,” Plummer said. She also reminded the other board members of the close alliance the Association has with the school, especially with the recent sale of the Dacus property; and the housing of the patrol on that property, now owned by the school.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was new board Director Dick Doughty. “I do not support this,” he said. “The school should do it.”
Board directors were under the gun to make a decision, as the matter was time sensitive. If approved, changes made in architectural plans would be implemented in upcoming weeks. If not approved, construction would begin on the school as originally designed.
“This is a difficult issue,” President Bill Beckman said. “I’m torn. On one hand, I commend the art jury. But I’m concerned about the precedent this sets. We don’t own the building. Why should our members pay for it (these improvements)?”
The divided board began to lean toward guaranteeing the funds after school board member Scot Cheatham made assurances that the school board would help seek private donations through fundraising efforts. “We’ve got fundraising going on for the Performance Arts Center and a playing field,” he said. “We’ll add this to those efforts.” Monies raised through fundraising efforts would offset monies guaranteed by the Association.
Those assurances were enough to sway Director Tom Lang and Beckman into voting for the proposition to guarantee the funds. The vote was 5-1, with Dick Doughty being the sole holdout.
“This wasn’t easy,” Beckman said. “But we’ve had a good discussion and now we’ll all support this.”
The school renovation is scheduled for completion in fall 2010. And now, when completed, the view from La Granada will be much enhanced.

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