La Jolla schools to see campus improvements


Changes big and small are coming to La Jolla’s public schools. Some are already underway, some won’t break ground until next year. Some campuses are simply getting heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, others will be completely renovated. Here is a breakdown of what’s happening.

La Jolla High School

Construction started in late 2018 on the Whole Site Modernization project for the 750 Nautilus St. campus and includes a new campus entrance next to Building 200 with new gates and ornamental fencing, exterior painting of all buildings, repairs and improvements to building interiors and systems, renovated walkways, drinking fountains, and new security fencing. Opened in 1922, La Jolla High is San Diego Unified School District’s second oldest campus.

According to the District, interior improvements include converting Building 800A into lab classrooms, remodeling the science building and lab classrooms in Building 700. Renovations include those in the food services area, the girls locker rooms, and Building 500 restrooms and exterior finishes. Other repairs and upgrades that will be conducted as needed include HVAC; plumbing; sewer lines; electrical systems.

Work is set to be complete in February 2021.

Muirlands Middle School

As soon as this summer, Muirlands Middle School, 1056 Nautilus St. (built in 1963) will get new fencing to increase safety, and a new HVAC system.

Principal Goef Martin told La Jolla Light the plans to extend the fencing have been underway since his predecessor, Harlan Klein, was at the school. “It was supposed to be completed in February 2019,” he said. “Harlan had sent an e-mail in spring 2018, and I sent a follow up e-mail in October. All the work they wanted to have done by February should have been done.”

However, District spokesperson Samer Naji confirmed the work would take place “over the summer” to “minimize construction impacts on school activities.”

Additionally, the school will have its HVAC system installed over the summer, as part of a District-wide effort to have all the public school campuses fitted with HVAC equipment.

Down the line, the District is also proposing additional improvements, including ADA and security upgrades to the parking lots, facilities and school perimeter, and the replacement of all building windows, and other repairs as needed. Construction is not expected to begin until 2022.

Bird Rock Elementary and Torrey Pines Elementary

HVAC systems will also be installed at Bird Rock Elementary, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa (opened in 1951), and Torrey Pines Elementary School (opened in 1980) at 8350 Cliffridge Ave. The design and construction contracts for these projects were approved by the Board of Education at its Feb. 26 meeting.

The work is part of the Board’s 2015 decision to implement district-wide air conditioning in classrooms and other primary-use spaces. Work is expected to be complete on these campus improvements in September. The goal is to accomplish the work during evenings, weekends and school breaks.

Naji said in terms of scheduling: “The project team will make every effort to complete the work as soon as possible.”

La Jolla Elementary

Perhaps the most extensive renovations will be done at La Jolla Elementary School, 1111 Marine St. (built in 1962). A Whole Site Modernization project — funded by Prop S, Z and YY bonds, which voters approved in 2008 and 2018 — is being planned.

A meeting was held Feb. 28 at the school, during which time architects explained that the scope of work includes construction of new classroom and administration buildings, renovation of some current buildings, and removal of portable classrooms.

The schedule is in the assessment and planning stage, and construction would begin in 2020 to be completed in 2022.

A new two-story building will be constructed on Girard Avenue in place of the four portable classroom bungalows that are adjacent the auditorium building.

This new building will house permanent classrooms and administrative offices, and a gateway between this new building and the auditorium will serve as the single point of entry to the campus. There will also be new landscaping; a new food service area; specialized classroom spaces such as maker-spaces, and rooms for art and music; a new amphitheater; and expanded parking.

The Domusstudio firm will carry out the project, and architect Lisa D’Ambrosia said one of the biggest challenges is to remove the existing portable classrooms and construct new permanent classrooms in a way that minimizes impact to students.

“We’re going to work with staff to lay out these rooms and spaces so they function in the best way for the users,” she said. “The bigger part of this project is to remove the existing portables onsite — there are currently two over by the kindergarten area. Integrated throughout the campus, there would be site improvements, such as connecting all the outdoor accesses with covered walkways.”

Domusstudio principal Wayne Holtan said designs are still considered tentative.

“They are to show imagery and suggest materials ... we still have many more meetings with the school, the district and the users. We’re trying to study the massing and bring in materials from the existing campus, but bring in some new elements to freshen it up,” he explained.

To improve accessibility throughout the campus, a bridge would be built to connect the upper field area to the second story of a building. There would also be new restrooms that could be accessed more easily from the upper field for the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market held on the grounds on Sundays.

Before construction begins, explained Lee Dulgeroff, district chief facilities planning & construction officer: “We will send out mailers and notify the neighbors when work is going to start. We’ll also have meetings with teachers.

“When we have a real plan, we’ll be able to walk you through, move by move by move. … We’re going to carefully plan and strategize how that plan will work, so we keep the work away from the kids, but step by step modernize the entire campus.”

La Jolla Light will follow these projects as they progress. For more information, visit