WATSONVILLE — Dozens of people gathered in a grassy field abutting Pajaro Valley High School Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony to herald in the construction that will bring the school’s long awaited athletic facility.
“Today is a day of celebration,” Pajaro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said. “Today is a day of equity for our students, specifically equity for Pajaro Valley High School students, to ensure they have the facilities they need.”
The field is slated to be completed by August 2020, PV High Athletic Director Joe Manfre said.
The ceremony included a gaggle of state and local lawmakers, in addition to several members of the PVUSD Board of Trustees.
“Since 2004 the children of the Pajaro Valley High School have practiced on the home turf of rival schools, and even their own parking lot,” Board Vice-President Daniel Dodge. Jr. said. “Their home games are actually away games.”
The $12.9 million project is largely funded by Measure L, the 2012 bond measure that funded $150 million in repairs, upgrades and construction throughout the sprawling district.
The district will pay for the rest with $3.9 million in one-time funds.
The Pajaro Valley High School athletic field project will be completed in August 2020. — Contributed
Trustee Maria Orozco praised the generations of students whose advocacy helped pass Measure L. She also thanked student leaders who never let the issue move to the back burner.
“Thank you for your emails, your phone calls, your letters,” she said. “Also for organizing and attending town hall meetings with the school board and the city council. And, most importantly, for your patience. This really has been a long process.”
Assemblyman Mark Stone said that the project was delayed as the school district worked through the red tape that comes with building near environmentally sensitive wetland habitat.
“This high school by some measure couldn’t even be here but for the hard work of a lot of folks who came together to get the coastal zoning permit to make sure we could build a high school where it needed to be and serve the people of Watsonville.
“Sports fields, make no mistake, are classrooms,” Stone said.
Jonathan Pilch, executive director of Watsonville Wetlands Watch, said the organization has long supported construction of the athletic field.
“We are enthusiastic and excited that the sports field is being built,” he said. “We feel proud to be a part of the PV High community.”
Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker said that the project will provide a critical piece of PV High.
“In many respects the athletic field serves as the heart of the school,” he said.
Editor's Note: This article will publish in the April 19 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.