An Open Letter to the San Diego Unified School District and the Board of Education
By Jim Zumbiel
We in the El Cerrito Community, along with other neighborhoods all around the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), have been under siege by SDUSD for the last few years and would like to respectfully pose some questions to SDUSD and Board of Education.
The proposed plan from SDUSD is to build an 18 million dollar sports complex at Crawford High School which will include a 2250 seat stadium in the residential El Cerrito neighborhood of San Diego. This school has not received any improvements, besides a new library and an internet upgrade, since its inception in 1957. It’s the last school in the district to receive upgrades of a substantial nature. We have the following questions:
Why are you spending $18M on a new Sports Complex which will benefit a relatively few number of students as opposed to upgrading the school which will benefit all? The school, as everyone knows, is in desperate need of repair. It is, quite frankly, an eyesore or many levels. The students, parents and the community have waited long enough for a new school, don’t you think?
You tell us that the school upgrades will begin sometime around 2020. Where will that money come from? Are you planning to put forth another bond measure at that time?
This is how Propositions “S” and “Z” were posed to the taxpayers of San Diego in 2008:
Proposition “S” – “To improve every neighborhood school by; repairing outdated student restrooms, deteriorated plumbing and roofs; upgrading career/vocational classrooms and labs; providing up-to-date classroom technology; improving school safety/security; replacing dilapidated portable classrooms; upgrading fire alarms; and removing hazardous substances; shall San Diego Unified School District issue $2,100,000,000 in bonds at legal interest rates, requiring independent citizen oversight, annual audits, NO money for administrators, and bonds issued only if NO estimated tax rate increase?”
Proposition “Z” – San Diego Neighborhood Schools Classroom Safety and Repair Measure. To repair neighborhood schools and charter schools with funding the state cannot take away by: Repairing deteriorating 60-year-old classrooms, libraries, wiring, plumbing, bathrooms and leaky roofs; Removing hazardous mold, asbestos, and lead; Upgrading fire safety systems/doors; Upgrading classroom instructional technology, labs and vocational education classrooms; Shall San Diego Unified School District issue $2.8 billion in bonds at legal interest rates with citizen’s oversight, independent financial audits, no money for administrators’ salaries and all funds spent locally?
Where, in these descriptions, does it describe anything like demolishing a standing, 1000 seat stadium and building, in a different location, an $18M, 2250 seat stadium and surrounding ball fields which will include a PA system and six 90 foot light poles?
Why did you feel the necessity to compose a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), dated December 5th, 2014, which included the following language:
“Pursuant to District policy and the Civic Center Act, the new athletic stadium and other athletic facilities proposed at Crawford High School and Mann Middle School could possibly be used by third parties for events. This was clarified in July 2014, when the District revised Administrative Procedure 9229 regarding use of District athletic fields and lighted stadiums in accordance with the Civic Center Act. There are currently no plans or proposals for third party use of the proposed stadium; however, it is possible that third party uses may occur in the future in accordance with District policy. The Draft EIR has been revised to reflect the possibility that athletic fields could be used for third party uses and changes to the site plans for the Crawford and Mann campuses developed by the District subsequent to submittal of the original EIR for public review.”
Could it be that you wanted to make sure that if and when you started renting out the stadium or shall we say, commercializing the stadium by renting it to businesses like VAVi, the west coasts’ largest adult sports and social club which is what’s happening at Clairemont High School where they hold over 200 events, that you want to make this permanent in the Crawford EIR to avoid issues down the road?
Speaking of The Civic Center Act, here’s what it says:
“The Civic Center Act establishes a civic center at each school site to provide space for the community to engage in recreational, educational, political, economic, artistic and moral discussions and activities. School districts must make school facilities and grounds available to nonprofit organizations and clubs or associations organized to promote youth and school activities, such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire USA, YMCA, parent-teacher associations and school-community advisory councils and may charge an amount not to exceed the direct costs of the District for such use”.
I don’t think that when Governor Jerry Brown signed this amendment to the Civic Center Act in 2012, he or anyone else envisioned a California School District interpreting this amendment to include a high school stadium rental to a $14M business.
Jim Zumbiel is an El Cerrito Resident
Editor Note: Mr. Zumbiel’s submission has been lightly edited for length and clarity.