Students rally to save San Diego High School

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SAN DIEGO — Students of San Diego High School hosted a rally Saturday to save their school by supporting Measure I on the November ballot.

Students like Samaya Elder said they are relying on the voters to keep their school standing.

“It’s really important to me that everybody gets their chance to become a part of San Diego High’s legacy,” said Elder, a senior.

The issue is San Diego Unified School District’s 50-year lease of 34 acres in Balboa Park, which expires in 2024. The district is then legally obligated to tear down the school because schools are not allowed on dedicated park land.

“It is true the legal argument is that the school cannot be here by law. But that is what Measure I is all about: allowing it, by law, to exist here,” said San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez.

Both councilmembers Alvarez — a former SDHS alumni — and Todd Gloria back Measure I, calling it a no-brainer. They said if it doesn’t pass, it comes with an additional cost.

“That means San Diego High has to leave this property and we have no idea where we can find a similar sized property for a public high school in the downtown area. You can imagine that would be nearly impossible to do, incredibly expensive and would take years and years to have happen,” Alvarez said.

But opponents of Measure I say the school doesn’t have to move at all if the district fulfills their 1974 lease agreement. A statement from the Balboa Park Heritage Association reads in part:

“Compliance with the law does NOT require closing or moving the campus.  However, the District must actually acquire the 34 acres of Park Land lawfully.  That requires the District either pay full market value for the land or swap lands having an equal market value and utility to be used as Park Lands.”

Currently, the land is estimated to be worth between $100,000,000 and $300,000,000. However,  students argue that money shouldn’t dictate the future of their education.

“Besides the students, the field and the gym and all these other parts of our campus are put to use for other community organizations so it’s not even just the students, it’s really everyone in San Diego,” said Elder.