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School board tackles facilities


The trustees of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District will be setting priorities today, Tuesday, June 20, on projects funded by Measure E, the $120 million bond measure that voters approved in November.

The board started the process at a meeting on June 6, but due to an abundance of public comment, had to continue the process to a special meeting. And, in case the board doesn’t get through the process today, it has July 10 set aside to continue their discussions.

At the meeting earlier this month, the Community Meeting Room was packed and there were an estimated 50 or more people out in the lobby watching the proceedings on TV.

Dozens of student athletes and parents who want the athletic facilities upgraded jammed the meeting, as did neighbors who don’t want a 2,500-seat multi-purpose athletic facility built on the east side of Nathanson Creek.

More than a dozen people who wanted to speak didn’t get the chance and left because of the numbers.

Stadium opponents said that the proposed stadium would be spending money on sports, not academics, and that the reason for the bond was “warm, safe and dry,” and the stadium isn’t “warm, safe and dry.”

But one proponent said safety is better fields and better PE facilities. And he wondered why there was no air conditioning in the middle school gyms. “We have the worst athletic facilities in the county,” he said. “Arnold Field isn’t even regulation size for football.”

The district can’t spend any money on Arnold Field because it doesn’t own the facility.

Alice Schimm, president of the Boosters, said she was appalled at the condition of the athletic facilities. “I’m embarrassed by them,” she said.

But even today’s meeting won’t be the final word.

Board President Dan Gustafson said the board will try to get as much done as possible in the three hours that’s slotted for the discussion.

The board has up-to-date estimates on all of the proposed projects for the district, and the price tag is almost double the size of the bond. While the bond was for $120 million, the proposed projects have an estimated price tag of more than $211 million.

“These are things that won’t get started for at least a year or two down the road,” Gustafson said. And he said the projects won’t be done all at once, that the district will probably have three phases of projects.

“In order to get some things on the list done, you have to get others finished first,” he said. “It’s a complex formula. We have to work around summers and inflation on the projects.”

He pointed out that the district will be holding some money back for contingencies and unexpected problems.

Both the project architects and the construction management company have been looking at the projects and timelines for about the past 18 months.

With the exception of the high school, the rest of the district’s campuses had master plans that were drafted in 2011. The high school’s facility master plan was completed in 2015.

Today’s meeting will be held starting at 3 p.m. in the high school pavilion. After the facilities session, the board will hold another special meeting to approve the budget for the coming fiscal year. That meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., also in the high school pavilion.