Ground broken for newest Poway Unified school

An artist rendering of School 39’s main entry during the daytime.
An artist rendering of School 39’s main entry during the daytime.

By Elizabeth Marie Himchak

Poway Unified officials and community leaders from 4S Ranch and Del Sur gathered Thursday to officially celebrate construction of the district’s first K-8 school.

Known as School 39 for now, the 22-acre campus next door to Del Norte High School is likely to be the last campus Poway Unified School District will construct, at least for the foreseeable future. It is in the Del Sur portion of Black Mountain Ranch, bordered by Camino del Norte to the north, Lone Quail Road to the east and Del Norte High to the south.

Construction began in mid-March for the school that is set to open in August 2014. Whether there will be a phasing in of grades has yet to be determined.

While it will primarily draw students from Del Sur and 4S Ranch, during the May 9 groundbreaking ceremony Superintendent John Collins said its students will not be determined by boundaries, calling it a “school of choice.”

The school is being built to accommodate 1,500 students with around 1,000 of them being kindergartners through fifth-graders and around 500 being sixth- through eighth-graders.

The 156,000-square-foot school — which in later years could be expanded — is to be built with a village concept that allows for greater collaboration between teachers and students in the same and various grade levels. Construction is expected to cost $56 million, with funding sources including Mello-Roos and a state program, according to the district’s website.

“This has been a dream of so many for so long,” said Marc Davis, PUSD Board of Education president, explaining how the campus is the district’s commitment to the children in the community.

“As a board we are 100 percent committed to the kids and this project,” he said.

Principal Sonya Wrisley spoke of her and the school leadership team’s excitement over the new possibilities ahead, adding the “daring” approach will be reflected in not only the campus’ design but instruction.

“Watch us as we change the way we do school,” Wrisley said, who most recently was principal of Oak Valley Middle School in 4S Ranch.

Collins said the new campus, like all others in the district, will be a “quality facility” that every child deserves to be educated in. He said the board made that commitment 13 years ago and School 39 is “the last piece of that commitment.”

He thanked board members, both current and former, “for their vision and courage” to making district-wide school improvements a reality.

Photos by Elizabeth Marie Himchak

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