By Mark Mastromatteo
In a key Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education vote on Sept. 7, the board agreed 6-1 to fund major infrastructure projects at Muir High School, and Madison and Longfellow elementary schools, totaling roughly $240 million.
While up to $300 million may be available for future major PUSD school site projects from the recent bond measure, PUSD, according to sources, will not commit to additional projects of this scale for at least three years, until one or more of these current projects are completed.
So where does this leave San Rafael Elementary School?
The latest estimate of the cost to remodel San Rafael is between $50-$70 million. The Sept. 7 vote would tend suggest that west Pasadena’s only remaining PUSD school will not be funded for infrastructure upgrades in the near future. With its campus in major disrepair, this decision could imperil the future of the elementary school, possibly even forcing its closure.
Parent groups at the school have been beating the drum in recent months at the board meetings that the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems are deteriorating. While the board did vote to fund a relatively small amount toward safety fixes in all schools, that funding offers nothing of the scale needed at San Rafael, west Pasadena’s last public school.
While some on the board contend that there are still scenarios under which remodeling at San Rafael could be funded, others— including District 7 PUSD Board of Education Trustee Dr. Yarma Velázquez— worry that this could signal the end of PUSD schools in west Pasadena. They cite the precedent of Linda Vista Elementary’s 2006 closure and subsequent status as unused property in a state of disrepair, and fear that San Rafael Elementary may also be destined for abandonment.
Over the next several months, the projects at the three prioritized PUSD schools will come into clearer focus, which may help or hinder San Rafael’s chances going forward.
Note: This article was originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of the West Pasadena Resident’s Association newsletter.