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The plan to tear down and rebuild the Memorial Preparatory Academy campus in Logan Heights is moving forward on a delayed timeline and larger scale.

Rather than close an elementary school that shares the campus to accommodate the rebuilt middle school and a new high school, the working plan now appears to preserve the campus’ mini-schools feel and expand to serve students in every grade.

“Through engagement with the community the district adjusted the project scope to create the current TK-12 plan which rebuilds most of the campus to accommodate all grades,” said district spokesman Samer Naji. “The TK-12 education complex will likely have one name and two principals.”

Memorial Prep had the distinction of being the school most avoided by local students in the 2014-15 school year. Out of the 2,020 middle school-aged kids who lived near Memorial Prep, more than 80 percent chose to go elsewhere, district data showed.

The campus housed Memorial Prep middle school, district-run Logan K-8 school and King Chavez Academy of Excellence K-8 charter school last year. The nearly 330-student charter school will relocate to the district-owned Marcy Avenue complex less than a half-mile away starting this fall, district officials said.

“We are happy with it. We understood from the beginning that that was not a permanent home for our students,” said Gabe Collins, principal of King Chavez Academy of Excellence. “The challenges of being on a shared campus, it became clear that long term, in order for us to be able to grow our program, being on our own site made the most sense.”

A recent rendering of the Memorial and Logan campus shows athletic fields separating the lower grades from the 7th through 12th grade classrooms.

Image courtesy of San Diego Unified

Here is the existing layout.

Photo by Google Earth
Image via Google Earth

The re-envisioned campus will get a new name following district procedures, said Naji. For now, records show the district is calling the project the Logan Heights Educational Center. It carries a $110 million price tag.

In 2015, San Diego Unified Trustee Richard Barrera and San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez, who both oversee the area, said they hoped to see the school reopen in 2019.

Construction on the transitional kindergarten to eighth grade facilities is currently scheduled to begin in November and open in fall 2019. Construction on the ninth through 12th grade side of the campus is scheduled to begin in 2019 and finish in 2021, Naji said.

Image courtesy of San Diego Unified School District
Image courtesy of San Diego Unified School District

Academic changes will also be made. Sixth-graders will get their own academy of some sort, though details are scarce, and health science and engineering pathways will be available at the high school.

“The community deserves the best quality school that can be built there. The school is quite antiquated,” said Alvarez, a Memorial Prep alumnus. But the rebuild of the school is about more than new facilities, he said.

In community conversations with parents, the discussion was, “How do we make sure the school is producing kids that are competitive in the real world?” Alvarez said. “We don’t just want to build a new school physically. We want to build a school that is successful.”

Construction will be funded by Propositions S and Z, local property tax measures approved by voters in 2008 and 2012.

Logan K-8 families weren’t thrilled with the district’s initial proposal to shutter their school, and some parents aren’t happy with the current plan that accommodates all grades either, according to a CBS8 report.

Logan’s principal did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Collins, the principal of King Chavez Academy of Excellence, said having their own campus next school year “is something we have been wanting for a long time,” and remaining in the same neighborhood was a must. “Even though this community is evolving and changing over time, it is still an area we want to serve.”

The school will occupy portable classrooms at the Marcy Avenue site, which are in “better condition than what we inherited at Memorial” Collins said. There is “discussion of possibly developing the site to possibly build more permanent structures” eventually, he said.

The number of classrooms will be the same, but the charter school may have to get creative and push music programs into the classroom that used to be held in a larger gathering space, he said.

Ashly McGlone

Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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