In 2016, IUSD will open its fifth comprehensive high school, serving the Great Park Neighborhoods and parts of north Irvine.In addition to providing a state-of-the-art facility for students, families and staff that continues Irvine's tradition of excellence, Portola High School will alleviate crowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools.

As we head into the final year of the school's construction, we will continue to share updates and information on this webpage. For general information about Portola High School, including important updates from Principal John Pehrson, visit phs.iusd.org.

Portola High School Updates

Portola High School Welcome Message from Principal Pehrson

Dear Portola High School Community, We are excited to open our doors for the first class at Portola High School on August 24, 2016. This historic graduating class of 2020 will be the beneficiaries of more than five years of expert vision, design and construction on our 42-acre campus, which is adjacent to the Great Park. While we are opening with only freshmen in the 2016-2017 school year, we will add an additional class each year resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by the 2019-2020 school year.

Portola High School will offer the same opportunities for ninth graders as those offered at any other high school within the Irvine Unified School District. These opportunities include a rigorous and relevant curriculum, a visual and performing arts program, an athletics program with a complete offering of freshman level teams, and a robust activities program.

Portola High School was designed in partnership with the best experts in the industry. The planning involved numerous stakeholders throughout this multi-year process, resulting in a state-of-the-art 21st century facility complete with a performing arts complex, centered around a 700 seat theater, an aquatics complex including an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor gym (with three full sized courts) that is able to seat 2,000 guests, a 3,500 seat athletic stadium, a student union, and a learning commons designed to spark innovation. The school also contains several dedicated student and teacher collaboration meeting rooms. Finally, a fully equipped innovation lab (also known as a "Maker Space") is located off the Student Union near a design room which will be used for a variety of purposes but most importantly, it will provide a space for our learners to create and develop their "Senior Passion Projects."

Click here to read the full message.

Portola High School Affirmed Safe by Top State Environmental Agency

The Portola High School site has been affirmed safe by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC). Today, DTSC provided the District with the environmental site approval, also known as a "No Further Action" notice. This designation affirms the site is environmentally safe for students, families, staff and the community, and supports the 2014 and 2015 environmental site approvals previously granted by the DTSC.

To read the final report, click here.

Click here for the full update.

Click here to view the school site map with the comprehensive test locations and related information.

For the Final DTSC letters on this matter, see the following attachments.

IUSD Board Held 17th Public Meeting to Ensure Highest Standards for Portola High

The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) Board of Education held the 17th public meeting, since 2013, in which the Portola High School site was discussed and the public had opportunity to comment. During the more than four-hour meeting on Tuesday evening, the Board heard presentations from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), and IUSD staff and experts about the history of the school site and its safety. The presentations were followed by public testimony from the capacity audience.

Click here for the full update.

Related: Orange County Register News Coverage of the March 22 Public Meeting

IUSD Staff Presentation - March 22, 2016
Click here for a copy of the IUSD staff presentation, which includes the following information:
  • The history and chronology of the school site, located on the former El Toro Marine Base.
  • The rigorous and mandated process federal, state and local agencies must follow to ensure the site is safe for a school. Requirements for building a school are more stringent than residential or commercial developments.
  • The more than 200 tests performed throughout the school site under DTSC oversight.
  • Approvals received from the California Department of Education and DTSC before IUSD could begin building the school.
  • An outline for a proposed draft workplan developed by DTSC and the District for confirmation soil and soil gas samples to reaffirm the safety of the site.
Video Clips from March 22 Public MeetingIUSD Portola High School Site Communications 

Fact Check: Portola High School

This August, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) will open Portola High School, Irvine's fifth comprehensive high school. We share the community's excitement about the opening of our new state-of-the-art school that will serve generations of Irvine students and their families for years to come. However, the District is concerned about the continued and deliberate dissemination of information that mischaracterizes IUSD's actions to ensure the safety of the school site. IUSD's Fact Check provides thorough factual information and corrections to set the record straight.

Site Approval Documents

Below are letters from the California Department of Education and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control verifying the Portola High School site is approved and met all stringent requirements for school-site construction.

Please note, there are two of each letter, because the original site acreage of 40.3 acres was increased when the District acquired an additional 3 acres from the developer.

To review the environmental documents associated with this project, please click here.

DTSC Letters and Correspondence

DTSC Letter Affirming the Environmental Safety of the School Site

DTSC Email Summarizing March 8, 2016 Meeting with IUSD

DTSC Email Verifying Intent of New SamplingLetter to Mr. John Fogarty (DTSC Letter to IUSD)Letter from the California Department of Toxic Substances Confirming the Site is Safe

Project Description

Portola High School has been designed to meet criteria developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which helps establish campuses that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and aligned with modern teaching and learning. The campus will accommodate approximately 2,400 Irvine students with professional educators of the highest caliber, state-of-the-art academic facilities, the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities, including:

  • A performing arts building with a 720-seat theater, black box and dance studio
  • A 2,044 seat gymnasium that includes training facilities and dedicated team rooms
  • An elective building that will house video production, 2D and 3D art, music rooms and more
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Varsity and JV baseball and softball fields
  • Track and field facilities
  • Two full soccer fields
  • A student union featuring collaborative learning environment, a library with dedicated quiet rooms and an Innovation Lab
  • 21st-Century classrooms with common areas for collaborative learning
  • Dedicated science labs
  • A special education facility to facilitate essential life skills
  • A green roof that will enable hands-on, sustainable learning

In addition, the following amenities are part of the master plan for Portola High:

  • A 2,940 seat stadium with rubberized track and artificial turf
  • An aquatics center with a 50-meter pool


Site Aerial


Contact Information

Director, Facilities Planning: Lorrie Ruiz

Director, Construction Services: Ryan Zajda

Architect: HMC Architects

Construction Manager: CW Driver

For any questions regarding the project, please contact Lorrie Ruiz, Director, Facilities Planning, via email at LorrieRuiz@iusd.org, or via phone at 949.936.5308. For questions regarding construction, including pre-qualification and bid timelines, please contact Ryan Zajda, Director, Construction Services, via email at RyanZajda@iusd.org, or via phone at 949.936.5311. Thank you.

Education Specifications

To review the District's education specifications, please click here.

Portola High School News Briefs:

Throughout the site selection and construction of Portola High School, and as part of our open and transparent partnership with the community, IUSD has documented its process, procedures and decision making related to this important project.

Response to Misleading Information about the Portola High School Site

The Irvine Unified School District and the Portola High School staff are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students, their families and our dedicated professionals. It is our highest priority.

In selecting the Portola High School site and throughout construction, IUSD's process, procedures and findings have been and will continue to be based on the scientific studies and tested principles of such agencies as the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the California Department of Public Health, the Department of the Navy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies, in addition to the California Department of Education, have determined the site is safe and meets the stringent requirements for building a school.

Unfortunately, there is some misleading information in the community about the Portola High School site. Below are letters from IUSD, which address this misinformation. Also below, is a summary letter detailing IUSD's actions to ensure the site is safe and a letter from the Department of Toxic Substances and Control, confirming the safety of the site.

IUSD Letters Address Misinformation and the School-Site's Safety

Summary and Actions Taken of Stained Soil Found in November 2014

Board of Education Meeting Minutes Related to Portola High School