Tustin Unified breaks ground on new Legacy Magnet Academy

Rendering of Legacy Magnet Academy
Tustin Unified School District officials broke ground Wednesday on a state-of-the-art middle and high school set to open in the summer of 2020.

Legacy Magnet Academy will be located on a 33-acre site near Tustin Ranch Road and Valencia Avenue in Tustin Legacy, formerly home to Orange County’s Marine Corp Air Station.

City and school officials with shovels
Tustin school and city officials ceremoniously break ground on Legacy Magnet Academy, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

With the former base’s massive blimp hangars presenting an iconic backdrop, Tustin Unified Superintendent Gregory Franklin told a gathered crowed that the campus will be based on the magnet model known as TIDE — combining technology, innovation, design and entrepreneurship.

“We’re very good at doing many of those things in Tustin Unified at our existing middle schools and high schools,” Franklin said. “But we believe having the opportunity to bring all of that to one place, at one site, will really launch a wonderful program that will be unique in our county, and really be a calling card for Tustin Unified and our community.”

Legacy Magnet Academy will serve grades six and nine in its inaugural year — and possibly grades seven and eight, depending on enrollment interest — with grade levels added in subsequent years as students advance. Franklin said the campus could eventually accommodate 1,400 students in grades six through 12.

School board President James H. Laird, who grew up in Tustin, recalled using his childhood telescope to watch helicopters take off and land at the Tustin Marine base, which ceased operations in 1999. Soon enough, children will learn, play and grow on this historic site.

“For me, the history is very satisfying, to see that this is what we’re doing today,” he said.

The school has been designed by PJHM Architects and will be built by Balfour Beatty Construction over the next 18 months. TUSD and the city of Tustin have formed an agreement expected to generate $85 million to finance construction based on the build-out of the Tustin Legacy development.

The last school constructed in TUSD was Heritage Elementary School, which opened in fall 2016.