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One of the questions about a proposal to place a 300-student high school in a planned nine-story downtown library is how the move would affect construction costs.

Mayor Jerry Sanders and San Diego Unified School District board President Sheila Jackson addressed the issue in a recent letter to the California state librarian seeking to extend a $20 million library grant that is set to expire Dec. 31.

The letter notes that school district and City Council members are expected to vote in January on whether to enter formal negotiations and look at a redesign of the building to make way for the schoobrary. If the project goes forward, it would also require talks with the California Division of the State Architect, which must OK school facilities.

The letter from Sanders and Jackson states:

While the City and School District may have much of the funding in place to construct the current project, funding has not been identified to cover any major redesigns which may be caused by the inclusion of the school in the project or increases in the cost of construction due to time.

The $185 million cost estimate to build the library is from 2005. Boosters have said they won’t do another cost estimate until they raise more funds.

Sanders and Jackson also say “substantial progress” has been made toward the downtown library, noting that a pledge has been obtained to cover operating costs increases for the first five years.

The letter says a small high school could address high dropout rates and encourage “information literacy in a new generation of Californians.”

RANI GUPTA

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