School district to dive into plans to modernize pool and classrooms

During the March 14 Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education meeting, the district awarded contracts for design services to modernize the Laguna Beach High School pool and classroom upgrades at El Morro and Top of the World Elementary Schools, projects identified in the district’s Ten-Year Facilities Master Plan (FMP).

The classroom upgrades will support the state-mandated expansion of the Universal Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program, which requires public school districts to make TK available to all four-year-old children by the 2025-2026 school year.

El Morro Elementary School will also host the Laguna Beach Preschool program, slated to open in fall 2024. This program is designed to teach developmental and pre-academic school readiness skills necessary for a successful transition to elementary education. The preschool will offer inclusion opportunities for a diverse group of early learners from various backgrounds and capabilities, including students with special education needs.

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Courtesy of Ruhnau Clark Architects

Conceptual pool deck rendering

The pool, particularly its expansion, has been a controversial subject among some of the neighbors of the high school. It presently is in need of significant repairs and remains a designated capital improvement project dating back to 2015.

Recently, the Laguna Beach City Council unanimously decided to pursue an independent path for a community pool which ended a longstanding partnership sharing the high school pool for aquatic recreational opportunities. That decision ended consideration for future shared operations.

“For more than three decades, the joint use agreement for the LBHS Community Pool has benefited not only our students but Laguna Beach residents at large. Given our city’s unique constraints, with limited opportunities for new construction, the board has always prioritized the continuation of this longstanding collaboration,” said LBUSD Board of Education President Jan Vickers. “We recognize the invaluable recreational opportunities our facilities offer and are excited to begin the design process for these projects to ensure they serve the diverse needs of our students, as part of providing a comprehensive school experience,” she added.

As the district initiates the design process for the new pool in the coming weeks, it will consider factors such as the ability to host home games, enhance spectator seating, add more deep-water lanes, incorporate sustainability features and ensure code compliance. Additionally, the process will explore strategies to mitigate light and glare, as well as reduce construction and operational noise, alongside addressing traffic impacts to ensure minimal disruption to the surrounding community.

The goal is to create a premier facility that supports simultaneous team practices, reduces overcrowding and accommodates various LBHS programs. Based on the current project schedule, staff anticipates being able to publicly bid the project and award construction contracts by the end of 2025.

The district aims to minimize the downtime of the pool and has adopted a “summer sprint” model for its construction. Project timelines indicate that the pool will undergo construction for six months, from March through August 2026, with the pool support buildings slated for completion by late 2026.

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