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Middle School Boondoggles

The San Juan Unified School District is on a fast pace to build a new middle school at Creekside and to replace its district-wide Arcade Fundamental Middle School on Edison at Watt with a new boundaried middle school campus to be built at the same site. Neither of the projects are in the district's Strategic Plan (which guides policy), nor are they in the district's Facilities Plan (the document that links capital improvements with school bond taxes). Both of the new campuses involve pre-selected cookie-cutter architectural schemes that put new buildings in open space close to existing adjacent residences while also reducing curent campus open space. Each project is flying somewhat under the radar, with sketchy public notice and a general lack of awareness among students, parents and the community. More info is at:

The school district is trying to fix a problem it created years ago when it merged 6-8 middle school grades with 9-12 high school grades at Encina. However, the existence of that problem at Encina does not explain why the district should quickly spend money building new campuses ($60M each) at Creekside and Arcade. And there are some questions about failure to consider alternatives, curious contracts with construction firms, and lack of coordination (silo behavior) with other entities. The school district has a history of making mistakes in the west end of the district - school closures, Environmental Justice issues, deteriorating facilities, obscure policy-making, etc. Currently the district is on a risky path, one that isn't really fair to anyone except maybe the A&E firms with construction contracts. Doesn't the community deserve better? The Advocates for Arden Arcade would prefer to see success instead of mistakes. To that end we are committed to better public awareness about the middle schools, with a hopeful outcome of a win-win situation for everyone: students, parents, impacted neighborhoods, taxpayers, the community, AND the school district.

A sea of asphalt greets students, staff and visitors at Arden Middle School. Even though the building footprint was reduced by using 2-stories, the overall open space was reduced. But, hey, lots of parking!