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Bond measures construction
A crowd gathers to celebrate the newly modernized Emerson Elementary campus. Photo credit: Courtesy, San Diego Unified School District

One of Southcrest’s oldest elementary schools is celebrating its new facilities, thanks to the completion of major renovations. 

Emerson Elementary School students joined San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson, District D board trustee Richard Barrera, Principal Veronica Reyes, students, the community and other guests, including representatives from the San Diego Loyal soccer club, last week in dedicating the campus. 

As a result of a three-year site modernization, Emerson Elementary now sports modern classrooms, a soccer field and a secure campus entry. 

The $55 million project – as outlined in a district list of facilities projects – included construction of a two-story classroom facility, new kindergarten and preschool classroom buildings with dedicated outdoor play areas, a new student services and health building, an outdoor amphitheater, a student garden and a lunch court.

To make room for the additions, four aging buildings and all portables were removed from the campus.

“It is our hope that this is a campus the community can be proud of, and a place where students and families can thrive,” Jackson said. 

Renovations also were made to the multi-purpose room, library media center, cafeteria and kitchen. 

Emerson Elementary has served the community for more than a century. It first opened in 1911.

Named after 19th-century philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, offers the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, which identifies gifted learners and provides them with accelerated learning opportunities. 

“This beautiful campus is worthy of our amazing students,” Reyes said. “We are innovative, kind, strong and devoted. I’m proud to be the new principal.”

To ensure safety and health, the project also included the installation of perimeter fencing and security cameras, and the creation of a single main campus entry. All old water pipes and drinking water fixtures with lead-bearing components were replaced and upgraded. Workers also installed filtered hydration stations throughout the new campus.

The existing field located along Boston Avenue also was transformed into a new synthetic turf soccer field that may be accessed as a community park after school hours.

Part of the Play All Day partnership between San Diego Unified and City of San Diego, the joint-use space includes soccer striping, nets, an asphalt walking/running track, newly planted landscaping and a parking lot.

The field is currently available to students and will be open to the public in late 2023. 

The Emerson project was funded by two bond measures, Propositions S and Z. The former, at $2.1 billion, was passed by voters in 2008; Prop Z, at $2.8 billion, was approved four years later.

Funds for the student garden were also provided by the Master Gardeners of San Diego County.

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Ellen Bullock