Cardiff School District vs. Cardiff Preservation Society

Cardiff Elementary current layout

The back and forth between Cardiff School District and a vocal group of residents over the plan to rebuild Cardiff Elementary with Measure GG funds continues on, even as the District has voted to move forward with its final site plan.

The District wants to use the $22 million bond to rebuild the 60-year-old classrooms, move the auditorium (multipurpose room) north of the current Administration office, change the configuration of George Berkich Park by creating one long contiguous field, improve parking, and streamline student pickup and drop off.

Berkich Park will remain a joint-use park, the brick building on the north corner of the park will stay, and the dog park will be untouched.

School Board Meeting, August 2017: The public’s first glimpse of a new campus was presented by Randy Peterson, a consultant hired by the District to manage the project. He spoke to a mostly disagreeable crowd and showed a proposed design that was vastly different from what is there now: classrooms were shown in new locations that were spread out with a lot of space between them and Berkich Park was much smaller.

New campus layout (click to expand)

School Board Meeting, February 2018: The second iteration of the rebuild plan was presented, showing changes made at the request of the School Board, many of them stemming from public comments at the last meeting. Although some in attendance were now ok with the revised plan, others wanted additional changes. The Board directed the architect to again consider some of the comments made and to make further changes.

School Board Meeting, April 2018: The architect presented a third iteration of the plan, again incorporating some of the public comments from the previous meeting. This plan was voted on by the Board and is now their “Final Plan”.  However, the newly formed opposition group,  the Cardiff Preservation Society, vows to keep the District from building the new auditorium within the current Berkich Park boundary.

One member of the Preservation Society, who wishes to remain anonymous, is opposed to the final plan. She said the Society is concerned about the loss of park space in Cardiff and does not want the new auditorium built on Berkich Park. She found that the District would be violating an agreement made in 1993 when they received a $160,000 grant from the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for upgrades to the school’s playfields. According to the agreement, if there is a legitimate need to convert Berkich Park for some other purpose, the school must provide substitute land with a similar value and be put through a rigorous approval process.

A sign like this is posted at Berkich Park but has faded.

Jill Vinson, Superintendent of the District doesn’t think the agreement is a problem, “The district is working directly with the State of California Office of Grants and Local Services, who administers the program, through a well-established process to meet the changing needs of grant recipients in order to maintain compliance with grant requirements.”

Another member of the Cardiff Preservation Society, Dr. Gary Schneiderman, who sits on the Encinitas Senior Citizens Commission, also wants the District to build the auditorium in a different location, “We really don’t want to lose any park space. The District has compromised and it was a good compromise, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t maintain our stand.”

Julie Parker, Principal of Cardiff Elementary, points out that although they are using some of the park near the Administration building for the auditorium, “the new reconfiguration of the existing playfields will better meet the needs of the students during the school day by almost doubling the amount of usable field space for recess and physical education.”  Another benefit of the new field layout is that by placing the playground equipment on the southern end we will have a longer field that will be more useful to local sports leagues, allowing for varied configurations.  And, the auditorium will have concrete steps facing the north field that can be used for seating during weekend games.

The Society is also worried about how the school will use the auditorium. They are concerned that the school will rent it out for weddings and other public events during non-school hours. Julie Parker responded with, “No, that won’t happen. That is a rumor with unknown origin. Our intention is to continue to use it as the current one is used now – for community meetings, election polling, etc.”

Cardiff School Board Member David Ross was disappointed at how long the process is taking, “I don’t think there are any concessions the Board could make that would make those fighting the plan happy.”


Recent Encinitas Advocate article

Cardiff Preservation Society website

Presentation from the last Board meeting

Measure GG FAQ’s