pajaro middle school flood
Flood waters in March 2023 created major damage at Pajaro Middle School. File photo by Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Nearly one year ago, flood waters from the Pajaro River inundated Pajaro Middle School, closing the school and forcing hundreds of students to relocate. Now, restoration work will soon begin to allow them to return in August.

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a $4.6 million contract with Castroville-based Ausonio, Inc. to perform the restoration work.

District officials will meet this month with the company to allow work to begin, said Director of Maintenance and Operations Herlindo Fernandez.

Asked by Trustee Adam Scow how confident he is in his prediction that the work will be complete in time for students to return in August—with 10 being the most confident, Fernandez was quick to answer. 

“10, very confident,” he said. “We’re going to be there. We owe it to the kids, and we’ve gotta open up that school.”

The flooding occurred on March 5, 2023, when several atmospheric river storms swelled the river, causing the levee to break away in places.

The 450 students who were displaced are now attending classes at Lakeview Middle School, a plan that worked well since declining enrollment left 14 classrooms empty. But the longer commute to school has been a burden on some families and students. 

“Pajaro Middle School students would like to get back to their own school, and not have to be riding the bus,” Trustee Georgia Acosta said.

PVUSD interim Superintendent Murry Schekman said the district will be responsible for 10% of the cost, with the rest being paid by state and federal disaster funds.

Still to come, Schekman said, is a synthetic sports field, which will cost an estimated $1.5 million.

In the meantime, the district will test the soil for contaminants from the floodwaters, and then put in a grass field, he said.

So far, $500,000 has been identified for the project, he said. 

“We’re going to raise the money,” Schekman said. “I have made a commitment to the people in this community, and the people who have asked me about it. My time in the district is limited, but if the money is not there, I’m going to hang around until we raise that money.”

In other news, the trustees have selected a panel of district superintendent candidates to fill the spot left vacant when Michelle Rodriguez left in June. They expect to announce a finalist by Feb. 17. It is not yet clear how many people have applied, but a list will be unveiled soon.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. Wow! Progressive flag proudly on the wall of the school. Extremely glad I took my kids out of pvusd because it’s apparent the indoctrination they are placing on our children. Thank God we don’t have to deal with this anymore.

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  2. Wow, that long to get the ball rolling on clean up. Wow how pathetic.
    If that was Aptos it would have already been done a long time ago.
    I was a student there in the 90s

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