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Another due diligence problem at San Juan School District?

Readers of our blog know our newsroom has been busy trying to keep up with the goings-on about the new middle school the San Juan Unified School District wants to build quickly at the old Creekside Elementary school site. That project has 3 main issues:

  • Failure to contact, let alone work with, key stakeholders (Sacramento County, Fulton-El Camino Rec & Park District, Metro Fire, adjacent and nearby residents)
  • Incomplete staff work (e.g. no alternatives considered, traffic and environmental issues deferred)
  • Solving a temporary middle school student body increase with a permanent commitment of brick-and-mortar).

As it turns out, similar concerns cloud the related plan to change Arcade Middle School from a district-wide fundamental campus to a locally-boundaried traditional middle school. The Arcade project intends to build the new school in the open space to the south of the existing buiildings, then tear down the existing buildings for a very large parking lot. The open space along Watt is not slated for change.

Both the Creekside and Arcade projects are related to an expected wave of middle school-age children in the western end of the School District in Arden Arcade. Having middle schoolers mixed in with high schoolers at Encina isn't working, which makes the problem worse. So the School District wants three middle schools for Arden Arcade in zones south (Arden), middle (Creekside) and north (Arcade). They considered Arcade and Creekside to be "no-brainers" and, since they did not talk to anyone outside their immediate silo, off they went. That's been whipping up a fury among the Creeksiders, once they found out.

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Proposed site plan for the Arcade Middle School

Our elves tell us they've learned that the immediate neighbors of the Arcade site - whose residences abut the campus - have also been kept in the dark, just like the Creeksiders. The concept plan for each new middle school campus is very similar as to the buildings' shapes and sizes. The Creekside plan has a large building smack up against the adjacent single-family-home neighborhood. The Edison plan has large buildings right up against the backyards of the the houses on West Way, the easternmost residences of the Watt Avenue Gardens Townhomes, and the westernmost units of The Edison apartment complex.

As with the Creekside decision, the School District projected its enrollments and chose the Edison solution during Covid and without much fanfare or consultation. As we said before, decisions of this scale call for due diligence, the common-sense steps needed before undertaking a project. It seems to have been missing at both Creekside and Arcade. So, just like at Creekside, the School District has taken a huge risk with our tax dollars for what could be a half-baked idea. The School district is trying to move Creekside along anyway. Will the District do the same with Arcade?


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