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Schools Issues: Gophers, Sports Fields

The school board held a study session and welcomed public comment about the facilities master plan and possible bond measure Wednesday.

head football coach and PE department chair Joe Gregorio laid it out for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District board of trustees during a facilities master plan and possible bond measure study session Wednesday evening.

“When I grew up on Lincoln Street you had two choice: you played sports or you joined a gang," said Gregorio, who was an athlete through his schooling at , EA Hall Middle and Watsonville High schools."… That, I really believe, saved my life, my brother's life and the lives of my friends.”

So during Wednesday's meeting, he was before the board to ask they finally designate funding to build PV High football and soccer fields.

A few issues rose to the top Wednesday when the public was invited to weigh in.

EA Hall parents and staff begged for new sports fields as well, but their need stems from a persistent pest problem. Gophers have decimated the grass and 27 people have been injured using the athletic fields so far this year, according to Mike Schiro, a PE teacher at for more than a decade.

“The gophers are tremendous out there,” Schiro said. “They mock us.”

students asked for better bathrooms, paint for their buildings and a street-side marquee for the school. They also said the winding road to their school needs better lighting and the darkness is a safety concern; a girl was attacked there a couple years ago.

Gregorio, the PVHS football coach, as well as his colleagues and a parent spoke about the importance of giving student athletes their own turf.

Andrew Buckman, who was in the first class of PV High graduates in 2008 and has returned to coach football, said they were always promised a football field, "but it hasn’t happened."

“Growing up in this town, in this area you do have to face several things. You have to face the constant gang relation that this town has and all the negativity that the streets endure," he said. "One of the things that saved me was to be able to join a sports team.”

Mercedes Barrios, a PV High parent whose son, Antonio, also spoke about the experiences Antonio and her older daughter, a PVHS graduate, missed. 

“My concern is kids are playing sports—especially soccer, the girls at PV—and they have to go play at Watsonville High. That was sad. They never had an actual game played at home. My son is going to graduate PV and there’s still no field. That’s sad," she said, suggesting that her third child may attend Aptos High so she can have home field advantage.

School board members asked questions about using green materials, making schools energy efficient and other logistics. The district has 34 school campuses, all of which have identified repairs or upgrades within the master plan. Realistically, not everything will be covered.

“The hard part is yet to come …. There is the conversation of what you’re capable of doing, what you’re capable of financing," said Brett McFadden, the school district's chief business officer.

In the preliminary draft, the bond measure would come in around $193 million and be on the ballot in June or November of this year. One issue may be that PVUSD taxpayers are still footing the bill for Measure J, the district's last bond measure. Decisions on the possible bond measure will be made at future meetings.

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