Is there enough room on 50 acres for the Arroyo Toad and a high school?


Last updated 2/25/2017 at Noon

Julie Reeder

There has been constant controversy over the new Bonsall High School lately, before and after the election, and while it’s inconvenient, I believe it’s healthy for the community. There are obvious issues and concerns for neighbors as it relates to traffic, noise, space, etc. It’s too bad that it has to cost taxpayers money to move forward or defend the project.

However, if our community is going to be a reflection of the citizens, and we’re going to be good neighbors, it’s good that we have legal ways to work through the differences, whether it’s with the first amendment in the newspaper, signs in protest, or in court. That’s one of the great things about our country. Before everything is said and done and built, we have the opportunity to affect change.

Many of the controversies, such as the lease/leaseback situation and the need to have proper reports for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) have or are being worked through, and the newest question being raised by the California Taxpayers Action Network, relates to whether there’s still enough acreage to put a school after 16 acres are subtracted from the 50 acres because of the presence of the Arroyo Toad.

In response to the question, Village News’ Joe Naiman calculated the space needs of a high school and has determined that even if 16 acres of the Bonsall High School site are unavailable due to habitat constraints there would still be enough room for a high school on the 50-acre site the district currently owns.

Get ready, here are some specifics.

An acre is 43,560 square feet which would equate to 208 feet 8 inches by 208 feet 8 inches. The calculations utilized a measurement of 200 feet by 200 feet not only to simplify but also to take into account walkway and wall width as well as the buildings or fields themselves.

The calculations assume that Bonsall High School will not have an on-campus swimming pool. Only 21 public high schools in San Diego County and only seven in North County have on-campus pools, so the lack of an on-campus pool will not preclude Bonsall High School

aquatics programs in the future.

Even if Bonsall High School has a football team (it currently doesn't plan to field one) in the future, bleachers – rather than permanent stands such as those at Fallbrook High School – would likely be the case, and thus four acres were allowed for a field which would be used for soccer, track and field, field hockey, lacrosse, and rugby should Bonsall High School athletics expand to all of those sports.

A football field is 100 yards between goal lines and each end zone is 10 yards, so 400 feet would allow 20 feet on each side past the back of the end zone and 400 feet of width would also allow for sidelines and stands as well as storage structures, restrooms, and snack bars past the stands.

The baseball field dimensions from home plate to the right field and left field fences tend to be between 300 and 330 feet, so 400 feet each way or a total of four acres would allow for backstop, bench, and seating areas as well as for storage, restrooms, and a snack bar. A softball field tends to be smaller, so the allowance was 2 1/2 acres.

A standard high school basketball court is 84 feet between baskets and 50 feet wide. A gymnasium 150 feet in length would allow for space between the baskets and the gymnasium walls as well as for a foyer in front. (A volleyball court is 18 meters by 9 meters, which is less than 60 feet by 30 feet, so if Bonsall High School hosts a tournament three courts could hold matches concurrently.)

Allowing 200 feet for width would accommodate stands, a weight room, wrestling and gymnastics practice rooms, boys and girls locker rooms, a laundry room, coaches' offices, and storage. Those dimensions consume 3/4 of an acre.

The length of a tennis court is 78 feet and the width for doubles matches is 36 feet, so a court size of 100 feet by 50 feet would accommodate space between the court and the fence including benches. Two acres would allow 15 tennis courts along with 5,000 square feet for storage, restrooms, and a registration area including a snack bar should the high school ever host tournaments.

The calculations allowed four acres for physical education class and athletic practice fields, including a groundskeeping storage structure, and half an acre for racquetball/handball courts. That brings the total athletic area to 17 3/4 acres.

An allowance of one acre for an auditorium includes the lobby, a storage area, and dressing rooms. Half an acre, or 200 feet by 100 feet, would likely suffice for a band room and an instrument storage area. A high school library including the office area could likely be fitted in 200 feet by 200 feet, or one acre.

The room or rooms for the yearbook and student newspaper (one of our favorites!), including storage areas for past issues, account for half an acre. The subtotal is now 20 3/4 acres.

Half an acre, or 200 feet by 100 feet, is allowed for the cafeteria including the kitchen and the administrative office. The quad where students would eat lunch outside accounts for one acre. This brings the subtotal to 22 1/4 acres.

The subtotal becomes 26 1/4 acres with the inclusion of four acres for student and staff parking and bus loading and unloading.

The auto shop including storage of cars would account for half an acre. The metal shop and wood shop would each be 50 feet by 100 feet, or one-quarter of an acre each. That creates a subtotal of 27 1/4 acres.

If the rest of the classrooms are 20 feet by 40 feet with partitions allowing for double classrooms, 100 classrooms, including one for a student store and one dedicated to computer use, would encompass two acres and the total would be less if any buildings are two stories. That produces a subtotal of 29 1/4 acres.

If restrooms measure 20 feet by 30 feet no more than 1/3 of an acre would be needed for 20 restrooms. Two storage areas of 40 feet by 30 feet for janitorial, groundskeeping, and other maintenance use would consume just under two-thirds of an acre. The administration offices, including a teachers' lounge, would require no more than one acre.

This creates a total of 31 1/4 acres, so a school without a swimming pool could be constructed using only 33 acres.

Well, I’m sure this is way more detail than anyone expected in an answer to this question, but I believe it does shed some light on the issue.


Reader Comments

SaveGirdValley writes:

For info on this issue, visit For how many acres the State of California requires for 1,500 students (38.7 acres) see Table 6 at


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