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Stepping Stones

Crane Country Day School


At Crane Country Day School, we strive to make every day inspiring, meaningful, and valuable for our students. As we enjoy daily assemblies, athletics, performances, and myriad other activities, we also look to the future. That means preparing every current student for success in life, and also ensuring that the school’s physical plant remains healthy and vibrant for generations of Crane families still to come. In 2011, after two-and-a-half years of diligent effort by the dedicated members of the Board of Trustees, Crane School achieved a major objective by receiving a new Conditional Use Permit. As is true of so much at the school,

it was the result of focused action that will pay dividends far into the future.

Every space at Crane, from the classroom to the science labs, and from the stage to the soccer fields, is a place for learning.

“Conditional Use Permit” (CUP) is by no means the most scintillating phrase ever conjured, but to a non-profit organization, those three words are nothing less than the keys to the kingdom. A CUP is for us what a building permit is for a private homeowner who wants to remodel. For Crane this means a generous green light from the county about future construction projects. Our Master Plan is an internal document that represents our longterm vision for the school, but a CUP grants us the legal right to make it all become a reality! Obtaining a CUP is a rigorous, expensive, and time-consuming project. Crane’s previous CUP, issued in 1967, permitted our current configuration of buildings. Almost two decades of building projects ended with the completion of the Library and Art Center and the renovation of the Lower School classrooms. Since we had come to within a few square feet of the maximum build-out from that 1967 CUP limit, the Board then shifted its efforts and began working on a new Master Plan. They also redirected the school’s fundraising efforts to focus on expanding the endowment.

New Conditional Use

Consultants were hired, we had a series of meetings with parents and teachers, we did traffic studies, we held neighborhood meetings, and eventually a comprehensive plan was articulated. There are a great many steps involved with a new CUP! We were so pleased in March 2011 when we received the new CUP, with explicit approval for nearly everything we requested. Having done its work perfectly, Crane’s Board has secured a CUP that transcends any of our immediate needs. A comprehensive CUP ensures that the school will have the flexibility in future years to make any changes and improvements that arise. As we look forward to any next project, Crane will have to start by addressing our traffic and parking, since we are required by the county to complete this piece of the plan first, before any other building project begins. Beyond parking, other future projects include: increasing Upper School teaching spaces; enlarging Cate Hall; expanding the output of our organic gardens; building a new gymnasium; and much more. Crane has its own priorities, but we will also listen to our donors as we establish priorities for the next few years. Most of the independent schools in Santa Barbara do not own their campuses. We are extremely fortunate to own our beautiful campus, and we have to take good care of it. This new CUP allows us to continue doing that by investing in our children, ourselves, and our shared educational vision for years to come with thoughtful, balanced planning.

Permit Unlocks the Future

At Crane, we know the most important lessons you learn in elementary and middle school are not found in textbooks.

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special thanks to: Blackbird Architects, Inc. David VanHoy, Architect, Inc. Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc. Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services, Inc.

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Expanded Parking: $1.2 million*


Upper School Classroom Expansion: $2.5 million*


Oak Tree Quad/Classrooms: $2.2 million*


Organic Garden – Outdoor Cafeteria – Kitchen: $1.6 million*

The parking lot will be our first project, and it will be transformational, turning the current expanse of asphalt into a park-like area. A grove of trees will divide traffic flow. While driveways will be asphalt, parking spaces will be natural crushed rock or earth. Twice the capacity of the current lot, this project will improve the attractiveness of the campus from San Leandro Lane and move queuing onto campus to reduce traffic obstructions during drop-off and pick-up.

The Upper School classrooms are not centralized, and some are among the oldest buildings on campus. Great effort has gone into strengthening Crane’s math program, and this new building, adjacent to science and technology, will feature classrooms dedicated to math. Since learning at Crane is experiential – and Upper School students are physically larger – they need bigger rooms than Lower School students. These new spaces will double the size currently available to our oldest students.

One of the organizing principles of Crane’s campus is that outdoor spaces often have a significant tree as their nucleus. Here, we will create an Oak Tree Quad, named for the particularly stunning tree in its center. A portion of the Lower School Loop will be repurposed as a pathway leading visitors toward nearby Cate Hall. Also planned are classrooms that can be used in flexible ways – for example, a woodshop to allow students to do set building for theatrical productions.

The organic garden and the kitchen will be relocated to the center of campus, where they will serve a more central role at the school. The interconnected processes of composting the beds and growing, harvesting, preparing, and enjoying food will be emphasized in these linked spaces. The new lunch area, shaded by trees, will be located just steps from kitchen and garden, and a larger kitchen will also enable us to expand hot lunch service from two days a week to five.

* = preliminary estimate based on historical building costs per square foot

Stepping Stones

The 2012 Campus Master Plan for Crane Country Day School

Stepping Stones




Cate Hall Expansion: $800,000* This project will expand the theater, adding approximately 100 seats from which to enjoy its inspiring moments. The music room will be moved to allow for expansion of the stage, and the current less-than-ideal juxtaposition of a music classroom next to English classrooms will be remedied by the creation of a performing arts complex. A new, more formal entrance reached via a tree-lined courtyard will welcome visitors and guests into Cate Hall and the heart of the campus. Gymnasium: $4.6 million* The new gym will strengthen Crane’s athletic program, but its other purposes are perhaps even more exciting. As a large indoor space during bad weather, the gym could also be used for lunch service, dances, and events. Because gyms are large structures, they are often unpopular, but ours has been designed to nestle into the hillside so that it appears as a single story. Large glass doors will provide views of the fields, or will also fold away to create an indoor-outdoor setting. Expanded Administration: $1.8 million* Relocating the administrative center directly adjacent to the parking lot makes sense. Parents will have easier access, while visitors will see a more organized and welcoming “front door” for the school. Also, the current administrative space is simply too small for the school’s needs. We have outgrown it and have no room for even one more staff member. This project would also provide meeting space for parents and trustees, as well as critically needed storage areas.

* = preliminary estimate based on historical building costs per square foot

Crane’s blueprint for the next fifty years

And so, with our Conditional Use Permit in hand and our Master Plan to guide us, we embark upon the next phase of Crane School’s campus development. We proceed with an acute awareness of just how special this place is, and how great our responsibility is to develop it thoughtfully and respectfully. We are led by Crane’s enduring values, one of which is a profound sense of balance. As we build, we focus on balancing both the indoor spaces and outdoor spaces, spaces for the mind and spaces for the body, spaces for the smallest students and spaces for the older ones, vast fields and intimate courtyards. It is a challenge to define Crane School, since we are both an academic school and a creative school. We embrace technology as much as we embrace athletics. And we realize that the entire campus functions as our classroom. Every field, every courtyard, and every garden, is used to build a sense of community and excite our students about their education. The physical plant reveals the traditions we love, while at the same time, it reflects forward thinking and innovation. These planning documents will be Crane’s blueprint for the next fifty years. As we build, we will continue to work with excellent architects and designers. Because good design goes well beyond erecting a building, we strive to have all the elements of the Crane campus embody the very essence of the school. Crane’s physical plant is so much more than simply a setting for our school. It is beautiful — and beautifully functional — a place that evokes the spirit of experiential education. As long as there is a Crane School, that spirit will infuse every corner of this special place.

We are led by Crane’s enduring values, one of which is a profound sense of balance.

CRANE COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL 1795 San Leandro Lane Santa Barbara, CA 93108


COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL design and production Lorie Bacon

photography Teresa Pietsch

printer V3 Corporation

Campus Master Plan: Crane Country Day School