Three school campuses are on track to get millions of dollars worth of upgrades after the Cabrillo Unified School District Board of Governors moved to invest in campus modernization over a consolidation of two local elementary schools.

The most recent plans dedicate the most money, at nearly $46 million, to renovate El Granada Elementary. The school district plans to spend $20 million to update the Farallone View Elementary campus including building a new library, and $10 million for the first phase of modernization at Half Moon Bay High School. That’s about $100,000 invested per student at both elementary schools, Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said.

Funds for the campus updates will come from Measure M bond funding that was narrowly approved by voters in June 2018.

When evaluating the best use of the $77 million budget, the Cabrillo board considered consolidating El Granada and Farallone View Elementary schools at one El Granada campus as enrollment continues to decline. But ultimately, they agreed that the benefits of maintaining neighborhood schools outweigh the marginal savings of consolidating.

“Because of the geography of the Coastside, because of the traffic issues on Highway 1, because of the access ingress and egress in El Granada, I just think consolidation is a no-go,” McPhetridge said.

That meant the original modernization plans had to be scaled down significantly, now focusing on fixing the most outdated parts of each campus with a realistic eye toward campus size and classroom needs. The updates are likely to happen in phases across all three campuses, but not until planning, permitting and contracting are all in place.

“There’s really probably a year of work before breaking ground,” McPhetridge said.

At El Granada Elementary School, the biggest update would be removing the outdated portable classrooms and replacing them with a new classroom building. No plans for new buildings are set for Half Moon Bay High School, but the campus would see improvements on existing buildings. Plans for Farallone View include updates to its multiuse building and a new building to house the library and student restrooms. Each campus would also get general improvements to its grounds.

Many of the CUSD board members said they’d like to see upgrades spread across campuses to keep learning facilities somewhat equitable across the Coastside. After modernizations on the Hatch Elementary campus concluded last year, the degrading facilities at El Granada, Farallone View and Half Moon Bay High School are next in line. Board member Kimberly Hines said at the meeting that she supports the modernization plans over consolidation, but wants to make sure the physical updates to all three schools are followed by all kinds of investment in the individual school communities.

“If we’re making that commitment to invest in all the schools, (I hope) that it's not just about the facility but really, in the end, serving equitably all of the students,” Hines said.

Sarah Wright is the deputy editor for the Review. She reports on unincorporated San Mateo County and local schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and has worked in policy and communications in Washington, D.C.

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