WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an amendment to a coastal development permit issued to Pajaro Valley High, which would allow construction of the school’s auditorium.
The 15,000-square-foot, 450-seat state-of-the-art auditorium would be constructed adjacent to the cafeteria just to the right of the school’s front entrance.
The project is set to start construction in the fall, according to the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) website. It carries an estimated cost of $12 million, which will be funded through Measure L bond money.
“We will run the course, as we have before, with the bidding process in all the work that we need to do with the auditorium,” said Pajaro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez, who added that the ongoing construction on the school’s long-awaited athletic fields is “ahead of schedule.”
The construction of the athletic fields, which will be completed before the start of the 2020-21 school year, and the addition of the auditorium would bring an end to an arduous near-decade long process to complete the school.
PV High was OK’d by the council in 2001, and opened its doors in 2004. The 2001 approval, however, did not include plans for a sports stadium or an auditorium.
It wasn’t until the passing of Measure L, a $150 million bond approved by voters in 2012, that PVUSD made a push to finish the school. But that proposal was met with heavy pushback from several agencies, including the Watsonville Pilots Association (WPA), which threatened litigation if plans were approved.
However, a settlement between the WPA and PVUSD in 2017 allowed construction of the school’s athletic fields, a $12.9 million project slated to be completed before the start of the 2020-21 school year, so long as the district continued to build on the school’s existing footprint.
The auditorium would be the final piece to making Pajaro Valley “a complete school,” said councilman Aurelio Gonzalez.
“I congratulate you guys on that,” he said. “Job well done by the community.”
Pajaro Valley Principal Matt Levy at a Watsonville Planning Commission meeting earlier this month said the school already has more than 70 kids enrolled in band and another 70 signed up for the drama club. The addition, he said, would give them a place to practice and showcase their creativity — something they have not had in the past.
Pajaro Valley Athletic Director Joe Manfre said the construction of the athletic fields and the auditorium would help the school operate smoothly. The school’s gym currently houses multiple performance programs that will be moved into the auditorium — their natural home — once completed.
"I can't wait until this gets done," Manfre said. "This is going to complete our school."