CARLSBAD — Within 10 to 12 years, every school in the Carlsbad Unified School District will have been modernized or upgraded in some way.
Measure HH, the $265 million school bond passed by voters in November, is set to modernize classrooms and facilities at each of the 16 campuses. The focus, according to Superintendent Dr. Ben Churchill, is to create classrooms and workspaces to prepare students for jobs of the future.
Security and energy sustainability are also folded into the bond, but the primary priority is to allow students spaces geared toward their future. Not to mention, many of the schools are aging or have only had minor upgrades over the course of their lifetimes.
Phase one construction is expected to begin in June 2020.
“Look at your roof … at a certain point it’s going to fail,” Churchill said. “They only have a 40-to 50-year lifespan and school buildings are no different.”
The district spends $3.5 million per year on “routine” maintenance, but those fixes can’t and don’t prevent long-term wear.
The latest bond will cover each school and the district office in five phases, with the district office being in the fifth phase. Hope, Kelly and Magnolia elementary schools and the Carlsbad High School science building and chiller will be covered in phase one.
Phase two will upgrade Aviara Oaks Elementary, Buena Vista and Jefferson elementary schools plus Valley Middle School. Phase three consists of Carlsbad Village Academy, Pacific Rim and Calavera Hills and Aviara Oaks middle schools. In phase four, Calavera Hills and Poinsettia elementary schools, Carlsbad High School will undergo work as well as minimal improvements to Sage Creek High School.
The cost estimates total $88.8 million for phase one followed by $71 million for phase two, $40 million for phase three and $72 million for phase four.
Assistant Superintendent Chris Wright said much of the work will be a “down to the studs renovation,” which will feature students using semi-permanent (relocatables) structures during construction.
The major renovations at schools such as Hope, Kelly and others, include creating more permanent classrooms, science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) spaces, HVAC, makerspace, parking and traffic flow and core facilities upgrades, to name a few. A STEAM lab will be included in every elementary and middle school.
“We’re revamping the classrooms to meet the needs and our core facilities to make sure they’re sized appropriately for our enrollment,” said Kelly Fleming, director of facilities and construction management for the district.
One challenge is anticipating enrollment needs, which is why some relocatables will remain on campus, but more permanent rooms will be constructed. Wright said the district doesn’t want to overbuild due to high permit construction costs, which is why some relocatables will remain in place.
“Permit construction is expensive,” he said. “Every campus will have some of those because you can put them on to accommodate enrollment, but should enrollment shrink … you want to be able to pull those off and not touch your permit construction.”
With the addition of the Robertson Ranch and Quarry Creek developments, Hope and Kelly will see an influx of students once those families move in.
Churchill said the district’s demographer is in tune with all the city permits, developments in progress and works with builders to understand when those projects will be ready.
“It’s a math exercise more than anything else,” Churchill said. “We look at the high-density low-incoming housing, the single family and duplexes … the demographer gives us the numbers and we make the changes.”
The district got a head start on its charge forward before the bond was passed. Architects and contractors were secured to head off the competition, especially the $3.5 billion school bond passed for the San Diego Unified School District.
“We certainly wanted our ducks in a row,” Wright said. “Over the past few months, we did a parallel effort … in terms of contracts. We wanted to be first on the market and have the pick of the litter for the services we need.”