Two paths for Santa Monica High School diverge in a meeting room. Which one will the local Board of Education travel by?
The school board on Thursday evening will consider two distinct plans for the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s flagship campus, which has been targeted for major renovations in the coming decades.
The upcoming study session marks the latest step in a process that began in July, when the school board hired Rebecca Binder’s architecture firm to develop a long-term plan for Samohi.
The plan takes into account “educational planning parameters, space inventory, space programming and potential swing spaces as well as development of a land use plan,” according to an SMMUSD report.
The district’s bond program manager, Steve Massetti, recently said that Samohi will grow in square footage by 47 percent. But exactly what the high school’s expansion looks like remains to be seen.
Architecture and planning officials have had numerous meetings with senior district staff and site personnel to assess existing facilities, Massetti said. Input gathered from those meetings was then used by Binder’s firm to develop two different design concepts, which have been prepared for board consideration.
Now, the school board is expected to weigh in. Direction from the board is expected to guide future decisions about Samohi.
“The purpose of this study session will be to present the options and discuss the differences and strengths of each concept, as well as to obtain guidance as to which plan should be developed further,” the SMMUSD report reads.
Massetti and representatives from Binder’s firm will present information about the two plans and answer questions from board members during the meeting, which is called for 5:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 1651 16th St., in Santa Monica.
The draft of a comprehensive plan for Samohi is expected to be ready by June, according to Massetti. Buildings will be capped at four stories in height, with several structures likely to feature first- and second-floor entryways. The plan will factor in results from existing reports about surrounding traffic and archaeological considerations.
Board input could help in determining the order of forthcoming projects and where contractors will be staged during construction, according to Massetti. Neighborhood impacts will also be considered.
The study session comes more than three years after voters passed Measure ES, a $385-million bond for school improvements. The school board has already allocated $180 million specifically for upgrades at Samohi, a 26-acre facility that serves approximately 3,000 students.
“Virtually all spaces at Samohi are undersized for their current use, including clasrooms, meeting spaces, offices and storage space,” district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said. “A typical high school for 3,000 students is generally 52 or more acres.”
Money from Measure BB, a $268-million bond that voters approved in 2006, was used to construct the $55-million science and technology building that recently opened on campus.
Massetti was hired in July to oversee bond projects across the district. A 22-member advisory committee was formed earlier this year to weigh in on SMMUSD construction projects.