Design for New High School in Southeast Menifee Presented

An artist's rendering shows some proposed exterior scenes of the new high school planned for...

An artist's rendering shows some proposed exterior scenes of the new high school planned for Menifee.
Board members of the Menifee Union School District got their first look Tuesday at architectural plans for a new high school proposed for a rural site in southeast Menifee.

High School #4, as it's known in administrative documents, would be the fourth high school in the Perris Union High School District but would eventually be placed in the MUSD along with Paloma Valley High School in a district unification process. That would finally give Menifee a unified school district with grade levels K-12.

Heritage High School, opened in 2007 in the Romoland community of Menifee, would remain in the PUHSD along with Perris High School.

Representatives from PUHSD and its contracted design team from BakerNowicki Design Studio of San Diego showed Menifee school board members artist's renderings and answered questions about the school, which would sit on a 52-acre plot of what is now vacant land at Leon Road and Wickerd Road.

PUHSD officials hope to open the school in the fall of 2018 and expect that it would have an enrollment of approximately 2,600 -- including 1,000 students who would move over from Heritage High.

Design plans show the configuration of classrooms, a football stadium and other athletic fields.
The biggest obstacle at this point -- as usual -- is the budget. The cost of the project is estimated to be $125 million. About $76 million of that amount is already available through Measure T, a school bond measure that was passed by voters in 2012. But that leaves the project about $50 million short -- an amount that would be needed from the state, "which is not providing such funds at this time," according to MUSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Kennedy.

"We're really pushing for it," Kennedy said. "We have to go through our legislative representatives."

Dr. Fred Goode, a consultant for PUHSD, said it was important to complete the design plans, which have already been funded, in order to present the project to lawmakers in Sacramento.

"We need to get these plans into the state for approval to see if they have matching funds," Goode said.

The design calls for two-story classroom buildings situated in a U shape around a courtyard; a performing arts theater; football stadium; and other athletic fields. Using input from teachers and administrators during a symposium held in January, the design team included integrated labs and classrooms to facilitate four Centers for Applied Learning: Global Business, Applied Technology, Public Safety & Service, and Health & Science.

The design includes a "backup plan" of opening the school in three phases if the budget doesn't allow all the construction at once -- even though all concerned said they will do everything to avoid that. In that scenario, the football stadium and some performance arts buildings would be scheduled for construction later.

MUSD board member Robert O'Donnell expressed surprise that no members of the board were included in the symposium, and board member Jerry Bowman told the design team "It sounds like, 'Here's what you'll be getting, without our input.' " Goode stressed that plans were only preliminary and the input of board members would be welcomed. Kennedy did attend the symposium sessions.

Dr. Jonathan Greenberg, superintendent of PUHSD, said that once a date is set for the start of construction, plans would begin for the unification of high schools, middle schools and elementary schools in Menifee with the addition of the new high school and Paloma Valley High to MUSD.

Plans include a "student union" for study and socializing.
Learning centers would include state-of-the-art equipment and separate study areas.
Star shows the location of the proposed new high school in southeast Menifee.

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