School district to vote on plan to move San Francisco art school

The school district will consider a plan that could see the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts move downtown near the opera.
January 14, 2014 7:13:59 PM PST
San Francisco's arts school may be on the move. The school district will vote on a plan Tuesday that could see the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts move downtown near the opera and symphony.

There are two things working in favor for this project. The superintendent is a huge supporter of the arts and the economy has improved, so many believe it's now or never.

There is plenty of talent among the youth in San Francisco. The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is the one place that brings them together.

But many will argue it's always been in the wrong location because it's three miles from the heart of San Francisco's performing arts district.

For years advocates have wanted to bring the new and the more experienced performers closer together.

On Tuesday, the school board will once again reconsider moving the school to where, many say, it should belong.

"The resolution this evening is really for the Board of Education to authorize me as a superintendent to go out and start bringing people together to develop an action plan for how we are going to make this happen," Superintendent Richard Carranza said.

The district has some retrofit and bond monies set aside, but it's not nearly enough. In 2009, an architectural firm priced it at $171 million not including the cost of renovating Nourse Auditorium, which would be part of the project.

Now, well-known architect Mark Cavagnero has come up with a new design for the school right across the street from the San Francisco Jazz Center, which he also designed. Two of the buildings will continue to be historic landmarks with some new interior designs.

"So the number is significantly higher than the 170 number. What they are looking at now is over $200 million," Cavagnero said.

The principal says the new school would be accessible to all San Francisco public school students.

"The project isn't only about this school, it's about an art education center for all of San Francisco students," Principal Brian Kohn said.

The superintendent says with an expanding economy the time might be right to give it another shot.

"Very open minded and I think very committed San Franciscans that are going to rally around this project," Carranza said.

Those who remain optimistic say it may take four to five years to get there.


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