The update is part of San Diego Unified School District’s capital projects funded by Propositions S and Z, local bond measures approved by San Diego voters. Funding from both propositions goes toward repairing, renovating and revitalizing neighborhoods schools like PBMS.
“It’s so exciting to see this,” said PBMS principal Kimberly Meng. “It’s a huge commitment to the bond measures that allow us to create these amazing spaces in rundown places.”
Dr. Mike McQuary, San Diego Unified School Board trustee, noted PBMS and the Mission Bay Cluster schools within San Diego Unified School District are unique.
“This is a magnet program,” said McQuary of PBMS. “Kids from all over the city come here.”
“They are building three new classroom stations inside our media center, as well as a nurse’s office and a new counseling center,” said Meng.
“This is really the second phase (of modernization),” said McQuary, adding phase one was the new parking lot and playing fields PBMS shares with the YMCA.
“When all is said and done, we’re going to have an amazing facility here,” said Meng.
Asked when PBMS was built, Meng answered, “In every decade. The front building was built in the ’30s because this started out as PB Elementary.”
The whole site modernization plan at the school includes construction of a new two-story classroom building and three new classrooms in the existing library media center, and renovation and expansion of existing food service facilities.
The new two-story classroom will replace two aging buildings on the northeast corner of the campus along Felspar Street. When complete, it will include innovative work spaces, 26 classrooms and state-of-the-art technology.
Meng said air conditioning turned out to be the deciding factor determining whether old buildings on campus would be remodeled or torn down.
“There was talk about a new building, then it switched to renovating,” the principal said. “Then once the board approved air conditioning for all the schools, that brought it back to a new building. That was the tipping point.”
Added Meng: “We had algebra classes being taught in 98-degree heat at 2 p.m. No way [contractors] could put duct work up [in existing ceilings]. Now we’re going to have a climate-controlled building with new classroom spaces, common areas for kids and different kinds of learning spaces.”
Meng said the school’s modernization project will done in 2021.
“I anticipate our incoming sixth graders will be able to learn in the new building,” she said. “The entire project should be done with the fifth graders who will be coming here.”
Will construction be disruptive when school resumes in the fall?
“A bit, but we’re doing the worst part, the tear down, now so all the significantly impactful construction projects are taking place in the summertime,” Meng said.