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March 24, 2023

Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education holds study session to review proposed updates to school buildings

Proposed updates to the Facilities Master Plan include an Olympic-sized pool and parking structure for community use

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. - On Thursday evening, the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education held a study session to review proposed updates to LBUSD’s 10-year Facilities Master Plan that address facilities needs at all school sites and expand the flexibility and mixed-use of all district-owned facilities to meet all existing and anticipated student and program needs, such as:

  • the expansion of the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program, 
  • upgrades to outdated athletics facilities, 
  • outdoor learning environments, 
  • and the increased demand for comprehensive social-emotional support programs.  

The 10-year facilities master plan, approved by the board in 2015, is updated annually with feedback from the board and community to ensure continuous alignment with district priorities. The pandemic delayed the annual update to the master plan as schools addressed the facility and operational issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 the board contracted with Ruhnau Clarke to conduct a feasibility study related to the remaining capital improvement projects, which now include expanding the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program as required by California law. 

Another interest of the board in the feasibility study was to explore opportunities to expand recreational and mixed-use facilities for the broader community. The proposed projects include options for constructing an Olympic-sized pool (50 meters), a parking structure and a shared administrative building for district and high school staff that maximizes land use and creates mixed-use spaces for school business and student activities (i.e., flexible-use board room). The aquatic facility and parking structure would be available for community use, addressing citywide parking shortages and expanding recreational opportunities. You can view the proposed projects here.

“The idea of a new, Olympic-sized swimming pool in my beloved town of Laguna Beach is amazing. Better yet, the idea of providing the students of LBUSD with access to a 50-meter facility is game-changing,” said Laguna Beach resident Janet Evans. “With the tradition of excellence in aquatics here in Laguna Beach, continuing this legacy for future generations is imperative for our town. This is a great opportunity to nurture youth sports in our city,” she concluded. 

The proposed projects for the Laguna Beach High School administrative offices would integrate student social-emotional, college and career readiness services into one physical space to make them more easily accessible to students and their families.

"It is extremely rare that a community project checks so many boxes for so many groups. As I see it, the proposed aquatic, parking and tennis facilities projects benefit the city, our schools and neighbors," said Laguna Beach resident Steve Samuelian. "Shared recreational facilities promote a culture of health and wellness, foster human development, and strengthen communities through shared experiences. These projects meet our current needs and are an important step toward long-term community development," he concluded. 

In response to community interest and attendance at the study session, with board consent, President Vickers increased the time allowed for public comment from 20 minutes to an hour.  

“Tonight’s study session marks the first time that our board as a collective has had an opportunity to review and discuss the proposed updates to the master plan, and I want to reiterate that this is the beginning of a process that would be carried out over a number of years, with significant community input, should the board majority decide to explore any of the proposed projects further,” said LBUSD Board of Education President Jan Vickers

At the study session, the board directed staff to:

  1. Conduct site-based and community engagement meetings to gather additional feedback;
  2. Approach the city parking committee to determine city joint-use interest in proposed facilities, including the two school board members that participated in the ad hoc facilities committee;
  3. Explore financing options and provide background information to the board;
  4. Reduce the square footage proposed for administrative offices and explore opportunities for the mixed-use of shared spaces; 
  5. Continue to review all projects to determine the specific needs of the school sites and adjust accordingly, and
  6. Provide additional information on the impact of athletic facility lighting on surrounding neighbors. 

The board asked staff to provide an update at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Education in May. Community members can subscribe to LBUSD’s newsletter, “It’s A Wrap,” to receive regular updates from LBUSD, its teachers, students, staff and the Board of Education. The newsletter is issued after every regularly scheduled meeting of the board.