WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday put their final approval on the PV High athletic field, which will allow work to begin there on April 15.
Specifically, the trustees unanimously approved a price tag of $12,898,450.78 for the long-awaited field.
The trustees in September approved an agreement with Gilroy-based Kent Construction, LLC to perform the project.
The district will pay for the work with Measure L funds. The 2012 voter-approved bond measure has paid for maintenance and construction projects throughout the district.
This will happen with a lease/leaseback agreement, through which the district will lease the property to Kent Construction, and then lease it back from the company over a period of time for a price equivalent to the construction costs.
“This puts us in line for the groundbreaking ceremony and construction to start on April 15,” said PVUSD Chief Business Officer Joe Dominguez. “With the board’s approval, this is an evening for celebration.”
After years of often vociferous demands from students, teachers and community members, PV High’s field was finally funded by Measure L. But it hit roadblocks over legal objections by the Watsonville Pilots Association, which expressed concerns that the field was in the takeoff path of the airport.
That group dropped those objections in September 2017 after the district agreed to locate the field in the original footprint of the school.
In his remarks about the item, Trustee Daniel Dodge Jr. thanked former trustee Willie Yahiro, who was not at the meeting.
Dodge said Yahiro was a strong proponent of Measure L, and of giving PV High the playing field promised to students since the school was built in 2004.
Trustee Kim DeSerpa then suggested the field be named after Yahiro.
Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said that such a move must come from community activism.
“Board policy is specific on how fields are named,” she said. “It’s not allowed to be an administrative push. It’s supposed to be a swelling from the community.”
In other action, the board approved a positive certification for the second interim budget report, which means the district can meet its financial obligations for the next three years.
By law, school districts must submit their second interim budget reports to their governing agencies by March 15.
According to Dominguez, the district budget could take a hit due to declining enrollment, a number that could increase with new housing developments expected to bring more students. At the same time, student numbers will likely decrease with the autumn opening of Watsonville Prep School, which is expected to draw students and their Average Daily Attendance funding with them, he said.
In addition, the district continues to deficit spend, which occurs when expenditures outpace revenue.
But officials are reducing those numbers, Dominguez said.
The district is projected to overspend by $11.84 million this year, compared to $8.42 million next year and $5.91 million in 2020-21, he said.