The school board Wednesday will get another opportunity to comment on the proposed $56 million renovation of Samohi, including a rehab of the Greek Theatre. (photo by Brandon Wise)

SMMUSD HDQTRS — The Board of Education will get a crack at the scope of work proposed for a $56 million project meant to renovate or replace sports and cultural facilities on Santa Monica High School’s campus at its meeting tonight.

As planned, the money will go to demolish an old gym facility and replace it with a larger facility containing new basketball and volleyball courts, dance and yoga rooms, a pep studio and support buildings like restrooms, showers and dressing areas.

It will also rehab the existing Greek Theatre, and replace the football field with synthetic turf.

The project budget of $56 million includes construction improvements, allocations for planning, design services and project management.

It’s the first time the board will have seen an update on the multi-million dollar project in almost a year, said board President Jose Escarce.

“The last time we went through it was in June 2010,” Escarce said. “The truth is, the vision of Santa Monica High School that has been envisioned and imagined by the architects that have been working with us is really breathtaking. Anything that can move us closer and closer to that vision is a wonderful thing.”

The proposal is referred to as “phase one” of a $234 million project called the Civic Center Joint Use Project, which uses Redevelopment Agency funding to improve facilities on the Samohi campus in return for public access after school hours.

City Hall would manage the properties after school.

The City Council approved a $57 million expenditure for that phase, of which $1.084 million has been disbursed so that the district could begin environmental review work, said Kate Ginsberg, assistant director of community and cultural services.

“It doesn’t fully fund the environmental process, but it enables them to kickstart the work,” Ginsberg said.

Thus far, engineers have taken 10 soil samples — five 40 feet deep and five 75 feet deep — to make sure that the design of the new structures fits the capacity of the soil beneath it.

When that analysis is complete, the district will be able to use it in a future environmental review document to back up its decisions of what buildings or uses to put on what section of campus.

Tonight’s meeting will be the first presentation of that space programming to the board, with hopes that the final decisions will be made by the end of April.

Although architects have created provisional plans for the entire $234 million project, it’s unclear whether or not the project will continue past the first phase.

The design came with explicit instructions from City Hall to “keep the campus whole” as the district moves forward with phase one.

Problematically, the money needed to complete upgrades to the entire campus is expected to come from the Redevelopment Agency, which has come under fire from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

The governor’s budget proposes axing redevelopment agencies across the state to recoup $1.7 billion to be used to cover gaps in MediCal and courtroom costs.

It gives the district incentive to move as quickly as possible through the process.

“The uncertainty regarding the RDA has cast a shadow over all of this,” Escarce said.


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