Architects Finalizing LCUSD Facility Upgrades

The big picture is almost in focus. Architects for LPA Inc. are finalizing La Cañada Unified School District’s Facilities Master Plan, a document that will help the Governing Board identify upgrades and specific projects for the district’s needs.
The board will likely give highest priority to the projects that need to get done “no matter what,” Board President Dan Jeffries said. The district’s two most pressing concerns aren’t flashy, but they’re necessary, bond or no bond, he noted.
“We’ve got to connect the sewers at [Palm Crest Elementary], no matter what,” he said. “And we need some tech upgrades. Whether or not we ask voters for a bond and whether they’re generous enough to pass a bond or not, we have to figure out a way.”
Beyond that, he said, there are decisions to be made about how best to create a safe, secure and supporting learning environment for students.
At each of the three elementary campuses, the architects have suggested the district consider adding a two-story classroom building, which would be more cost-effective than revamping older buildings to create the desired additional space and light — although fixing problems with the old buildings would be considered a higher priority.
“Broken air conditioners, leaking roofs, rusty pipes … we’d make sure to fix those problems in the old buildings, and the next priority would be a new building, if a bond measure is successful,” Jeffries said.
He said the architects have been asked to return with more specific costs for options on certain projects, such as, replacing the pool at La Cañada High School: How much more expensive would it be to build a bigger pool in accordance with what school-site staff would like, compared with the cost of building a pool that meets just CIF (the governing body for high school athletics) minimum requirements?
The planning experts might return for another study session with stakeholders and the board before the June Governing Board meeting, at which Jeffries and his colleagues will be tasked with making the choices and officially finalizing the plan.
“It’s been cool to see it all come together, to see them take all these different ideas from different people and put them into one document,” Jeffries said. “I think we’ve made some good progress by focusing mostly on things that are important for the learning environment.”
Jeffries said LCUSD would be able to do only about 40% of what will end up on the wish list that is the master plan. “That’s good,” he said. “We’re in better shape than most schools, and we can make improvements at all our schools; some districts only get to do it at some of their schools.”
But some items won’t get checked off, at least not anytime soon.
“A parking structure at the high school would cost something like $10 million,” Jeffries said. “And that would be really nice, but our thinking is that has to be a little lower priority than class upgrades or technology upgrades. As much as we’d like to do it … maybe we can put that off for 10 or 15 years? The good thing is we’re going to have a list of things we’d like to do, and if you know you’re going to put in [a parking lot] in 20 years, you can make sure you don’t put another building right there before then.”

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