The Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education is feeling blue. Well, in a way.

Presented with two options for the future of the Santa Monica High School campus, the local school district’s governing body favored the so-called Blue plan over the Gold plan as it assessed the merits of both during its meeting earlier this month.

Rebecca Binder, whose architecture design firm was hired by SMMUSD to work with officials on a long-term vision for the district’s flagship campus, said the two concepts feature the same general elements organized in different ways.

In developing the two possible concepts, Binder’s firm tried to come up with arrangements that made sense for academic and athletic facilities. The firm is also accounting for open space, parking concerns, accessibility and drop-off locations, among other issues.

Binder’s firm is expected to refine the Blue plan with input from district officials and stakeholders.

The projects will likely require additional bond funding. Voters in 2006 approved a $268-million bond with Measure BB and in 2012 passed the $385-million Measure ES, $180 million from which has been allocated for upgrades at Samohi.

“What we’re talking about is a 20- to 25-year process,” said Steve Massetti, the district’s bond program manager. “We all want what’s best for the kids in this district,” he said. “We’d like to have a world-class campus. We have limited space, but we can get there.”

The Blue plan features separate buildings for each of Samohi’s five house communities. (The Gold plan fits the five houses into three larger structures.) The cafeteria would be located in a lower level of a new house building.

The Blue plan also stacks tennis courts on top of a gymnasium west of Barnum Hall and places a pool under a building on the northern end of the campus.

“Outdoor spaces are somewhat more ample in this concept,” Binder said. “We’ve saved some amount of land for other facilities.”

Craig Hamilton, co-chair of Santa Monica subcommittee for the district’s recently created advisory committee on facilities, said his group didn’t feel comfortable making a recommendation in favor of a particular scheme. But he said he personally prefers the Blue plan because it better organizes the academic and athletic features of the school.

“We have to think boldly about what this should be in the future, the kind of place that will have a life and purpose and sense of place that is of value to the community,” he said.

One advantage of the Gold plan, Binder said, is that softball would have a permanent home on campus sooner. She said the Gold plan was driven by an attempt to keep the tennis courts at surface level if there was resistance to elevating them.

In either plan, she said, classrooms are expected to increase in size from 960 square feet to 1,200 square feet and science labs will be 1,800 square feet instead of the current 1,200. Samohi, which serves roughly 3,000 students, is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent in square footage.

Board member Ralph Mechur said the Blue plan appeared “more coherent” and asked about the possibility of adjustable walls to account for future changes in class sizes and learning methods.

“One can’t pre-think the future in terms of how education will go,” Binder said. “But building flexibility into classrooms is a wise idea in terms of size.”

Board member Jose Escarce wondered about the longevity of the school’s five-house system, asking if it was wise to construct buildings for an organizational structure that might not last forever. Binder said the Blue plan lends itself to several different academic formats.

“Construction is not easy to live through,” Binder said. “We’re going to significantly impact this campus, and I’m sure we’ll hear about those impacts. Those are growing pains.”

Samohi PTSA president Joan Krenik, co-chair of the district’s advisory committee on Santa Monica facilities, said the pros and cons of the plans could be debated forever and that it was important to keep the process in progress.

“Our campus site is very constrained by size, access, geography and many other things,” she said. “This is another step in moving us forward.”

jeff@www.smdp.com