La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools Receive Almost $1 Million in Grant Funding For Safer Schools From CALFIRE

Five schools will receive upgrades to outdoor play areas, water capture capabilities, stormwater pollution reduction, and more

The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District has been awarded nearly $1 Million to upgrade and equip areas of five schools. The grant, provided by CALFIRE, will allow each of the schools to address areas of their campuses that need improvement to create safer shade and play areas, reduce “heat island” impacts, address water capture, as well as provide education on climate adaptation.


The five schools included in the grant funding are:
Rancho Elementary
STEAM Academy Middle School
La Mesa Dale Elementary
Sweetwater Springs Elementary
Northmont Elementary

The grant is a joint project between the district’s central office and its Extended Student Services (ESS) program, which will benefit from the improvements by giving its participating students safer play areas and educational opportunities.

“Green spaces are important for the environment and for the health and well-being of students and staff,” says Robert Cochran, Director of Business Services for La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools. “We’re very excited that CALFIRE selected us for an award and are looking forward to improving upon and strengthening these types of spaces on our school campuses.”


Making The Most of Natural Resources
Each school has specific needs and will begin a planning process to identify and have projects designed to meet those needs. The anticipated projects could include creating more green spaces on campuses, planting shade trees, and other landscaping to provide shade as well as water retention.

The water retention component is significant in that a great deal of current stormwater runs off of campuses into storm drains instead of helping cultivate the growth of plants and green spaces on campuses. One such possibility is building swails that can collect that water and direct it to areas of need on campus.


Educational Opportunities
In addition to the environmental impact of the projects, students may benefit from educational opportunities to learn how these projects help their schools.

“We want to make the most of this grant not just in the physical work on our campuses, but in using them to provide learning opportunities for our students,” says David Feliciano, Superintendent of La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools.

“Each of the projects created by this grant will provide vehicles for learning. For example, we’ll be able to teach how trees capture carbon that has been released into the atmosphere, or how reducing water runoff into our storm drains makes our drinking water cleaner and safer.”

The projects will enter the design phase immediately and are expected to start in the summer and fall of 2024.

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