After nearly a century, San Rafael Elementary campus is being closed and the school relocated. During a seismic study in 2011, it was determined that four earthquake faults run beneath the only public school campus in West Pasadena. The study was in preparation for modernization of school buildings by the Measure TT Bond Construction program. A state law puts a hold on any structural improvements within 50 feet of the fault lines.
“The San Rafael campus is safe to inhabit,” said Adam Wolfson, communications director of the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD). “It’s a public school building, which are some of the safest buildings in the entire state. But one part of the law says we can’t do any substantial renovations to that campus, so that’s one of the main reasons we’re doing the move.”
At its Nov. 7 meeting, the Pasadena Board of Education decided to relocate San Rafael to the site that used to be Allendale Elementary, next to the Blair middle and high schools campus. Since Blair International Baccalaureate School is using that space during its own renovations, and additional improvements will need to be made after that, the soonest a relocation could happen is the 2017-18 school year. San Rafael Elementary will continue to
operate at its current campus until then.
“Right now we’re doing construction at Blair, so that Allendale campus will be used to temporarily house students from Blair High,” said Wolfson. “That’s the first use. Once that happens, then that campus needs to be rehabbed and properly prepared for an elementary school, which is how we get to 2017.”
This decision was made after the San Rafael community requested that the district look into rebuilding on an area of the campus outside of the fault zone, according to an article by West Pasadena Residents’ Association (WPRA) Vice President Catherine Stringer in that organization’s newsletter. Another option was relocating to a renovated Linda Vista Elementary campus, which was closed in 2006.
“Allendale was certainly not our first choice,” said Wolfson. “Sometimes Mother Nature has the final say.”
The board also recently formed a 7-11 Committee to determine whether San Rafael should be designated surplus, the first step the district must take before closing, selling or leasing the site.