The building boom transforming San Diego: New schools becoming city's modern landmarks

Posted: Friday, October 18th 2019

The physical landscape of San Diego is changing – and schools are leading the way.

With the passage of Measure YY on last year’s ballot, San Diego voters voiced their support for bringing local schools into the 21st century. As aging classroom buildings are refurbished or knocked down to make way for the new, state of the art facilities springing up in their place, communities are ushering in a new generation of San Diego landmarks.

The historic Hoover High School, currently undergoing its biggest transformation since opened in 1929, is rapidly taking shape along El Cajon Boulevard for all to see.

Only a few weeks ago, Crawford High School students, alumni and community leaders celebrated the first phases of an equally massive project which will transform the school into a recognizable landmark for decades to come.

Even more recently, schools like Longfellow K-8 have seen safe, family-friendly outdoor areas take shape through the start of new joint-use field projects at their campus. But one of the most awaited school projects of all began taking shape just this week, as a historic groundbreaking ceremony took part near the city’s southern edge.

A crowd of young Emerson-Bandini “Jaguars” joined San Diego Unified leaders, families, and construction crews Wednesday to celebrate a historic milestone for the aging campus in Southcrest.

Construction crews began demolishing two buildings on the northeast corner of the site in May, the first step in making way for a modern 22,000 square-foot learning environment that the community is eagerly looking forward to.

“This groundbreaking marks the beginning of a new chapter for Emerson-Bandini, as well as the entire Southcrest community,” Principal Juan Romo said.

The project will bring a new two-story wing of classrooms, new kindergarten and preschool classroom buildings with their own dedicated outdoor play areas, a new administrative and health building, an outdoor amphitheater, and lunch court.

Renovations will also be underway; the multi-purpose room, library media center, cafeteria, and kitchen will be fully refurbished; the existing turf field will be reshaped and expanded to more than 26,400 square-feet; a new staff and visitor parking lot will be constructed, and new landscaping will be installed.

To ensure safety and security, crews will add perimeter fencing, new security cameras, and a single point-of-entry at the school.

The end result will be a gleaming new campus and additional source of pride for the local community.

“As a district, we are committed to providing all of our schools with safe and well- maintained facilities,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “Emerson-Bandini will be an example of safety, security, and digital literacy when this project is complete.”

Emerson-Bandini’s site transformation is poised to complete in winter 2021. When complete, the campus will become a TK-5 campus; formerly, these grades were assigned to both Emerson Elementary and the nearby Bandini Elementary School campuses.

The project is fully funded through Propositions S & Z. To read more about projects, like the one at Emerson-Bandini, visit

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