WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday received an update on various Measure L projects, some of which were completed over the past few months.
The presentation included the completion of the long-awaited Pajaro Valley High School sports complex, and the refurbishing of the Watsonville High School cafeteria. Athletic field restorations at Watsonville and Aptos high schools, not funded through Measure L, were also presented to the board.
Chief Business Officer Clint Rucker also presented five projects that are slated for the next two years. That includes the renovation of the E.A. Hall Middle School field and Aptos Junior High School’s multipurpose room this summer, and the modernization of the parking lots at Bradley and Hall District elementary schools next summer. Mintie White Elementary School next summer will also see aging portables replaced, Rucker said.
“[It’s] exciting, being from Watsonville, attending those schools … it’s great news, especially for Mintie White,” said trustee Daniel Dodge, Jr. “Those portables have been there since 1980-something, at least. I attended first grade in one of them.”
The district also passed its 2019 audit of the bond measure funds, Rucker said.
The district has allocated the vast majority of its funds from the $150 million bond measure approved by area voters in 2012. Pajaro Valley High ($18.4M), Watsonville High ($13.2M) and Aptos High ($13.2M) were tabbed to receive the largest portion of those funds, according to the report.
There are still schools that have not yet decided how to spend their remaining Measure L funds, Rucker said, and some won’t have enough funding to complete their entire wishlist.
Answering questions as to whether there was a possibility of a new bond measure being put on a future ballot, Rucker said that it is becoming increasingly difficult for those measures to be approved—he pointed to Cabrillo College’s near miss last year, among others.
But he said the district is working on a facilities needs analysis in the case that the board should choose to ask the taxpayers to fund further district-wide improvements.
“The amount of improvements needed, we probably do have to go out for a bond in the near future,” said trustee Maria Orozco, “but I think before we consider that, we need to deliver on all of our projects, and really highlight that to the community, of where all those tax dollars went.”
The meeting, held at Landmark Elementary, was the board’s first in-person gathering in more than a year.
It was the first time some trustees met Oscar Soto, who was elected to the Area III seat in November 2020, face-to-face.
“Everybody has been seeing me as a little cut-out on a screen for the last six, seven months, but I do exist—I’m right here,” Soto quipped.
Before the meeting, more than 100 people rallied in front of Landmark for classified employees—bus drivers, cafeteria workers, mechanics and other similar positions—who are currently in labor negotiations with the district. The trustees received an update on those negotiations during their closed session.
Representatives for the local California School Employees Association chapter say they want their “fair share,” but declined to give further details, citing ongoing negotiations.
Joining forces, again
The trustees also approved a deal with the city of Watsonville allowing the municipality to use the athletic fields at E.A. Hall Middle School and Ann Soldo and Landmark elementary schools when class is not in session.
The joint-use agreement between the two institutions started in August 2020, but the pandemic—and the restrictions on youth sports that came with it—made it tough to gauge the plan’s effectiveness and shortcomings. The deal approved on Wednesday will extend the agreement through June 30, 2022.
The city, under the reworked deal, will be responsible for the upkeep of the fields. Any excess revenues from the city’s field rentals will go back to the district. Rucker said those funds will be earmarked for possible field improvements.