Government / Politics

SBHS Bond Measure Discussion Turns to Aquatic Center

Partnership with city and county on proposed aquatic center, access to new tennis courts addressed
SBHS small pool.jpg

The San Benito High School Board of Trustees gathered August 2 to continue discussion and approve a potential $60 million bond measure that, if approved by voters in November, would fund further construction, modernization and update disability accessibility requirements. Based on the corrections given to the board at the July 26 meeting, Janet Muller of Dannis Woliver Kelley, along with Erica Gonzalez of Stifel, presented the board with a corrected version of the bond resolution. 

Trustee Evelyn Muro opened the discussion by saying she still had concerns about the wording of the proposed aquatic facility in the resolution. “I think we should have an open discussion on this because on the first bond it was very clear to me that the public was not going to support athletic facilities,” she said. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but the survey we did the second time for this bond I thought showed that that was one of the last things that people were going to support."

Muro also expressed some concern about the new campus tennis courts and the lack of a use agreement between the school and the city of Hollister to make them accessible to the public. “When we did the walk-through the other day it made me really sad to see those tennis courts sitting there and not being used by our whole community,” she said.

Funded by Measure G, the tennis courts and a new parking lot located at the southwest portion of campus were approved by the board in August 2015. The board hoped the district would be able to partner with the city to have the tennis courts open to public year-round. 

Board President Ray Rodriguez suggested approaching the city about using a proposed new pool as a community pool. “We might have to tell the city and the county ‘Hey it’s up to you guys',” he said.

Trustee Juan Robledo said of the pools, “I think of them as P.E. equipment more so than I do athletic equipment. A certain group is going to end up drowning more often than the other group because you need to try to teach them how to swim.”

Robledo added that he agreed with Rodriguez’s idea of approaching the city regarding partnerships and added, “If we get commitment from the county and the city, then we make it an aquatic center; if not, it becomes a swimming pool that we can actually use because right now the two that we have we’re trying to get them up to speed and we’re putting in money that we might be wasting.”

In the summer of 2015, the pool was closed  due to the pools' outdated technology. The two pools were closed again this year for the same reasons.

"50 percent of our students come from a poverty rate set by the state and usually those students do not have access to a swimming pool, swimming lessons and then therefore do not learn a life skill," said District Superintendent John Perales. "So It’s almost like a piece of equipment building a life skill."

“P.E. is one of the few subjects that is mandated by the state," Rodriguez said in agreement with Perales. "How many kids go through P.E. in a day at this school? In two days probably 1,400 (or) 1,500. It’s a classroom. Those students use the P.E. facilities for a grade. I think we need to focus that these are part of the education system."

According to the California Department of Education, the state requires students to take a mandatory two courses of physical education in order to graduate from high school. 

During public comment, Hollister resident Monica Rodriguez — the wife of Board President Ray Rodriguez — said the board needed to make its message clear, citing her experience as a volunteer on the last bond in which she said people where confused on the answers the board was giving the voters regarding how bond money would be spent. 

Hollister resident Gabby Simmons, said she was also confused about the board's message, saying, “After hearing tonight what you guys have to say, it seems like you're all over the place. I’m kind of wondering if you’re really ready this year to put this on the November ballot because listening right now it doesn't sound like you're on the same page. It doesn't sound like you have identified what's most important and where your deficiencies are."

Hollister for Aquatics founder, John Corrigan said, “The students of this community deserve a great place to go to school and you guys are well on your way, so I encourage you to have the courage to go after the bond. You hear it from me all the time, but when 60 percent of your incoming freshman class doesn't know how to swim and our idea of meeting the Ed Code is for them to stand there and pretend like they're swimming, that's wrong and we need to fix that.” 

The board unanimously approved the bond resolution, giving the community the chance to have its say in the November election. 

The next board meeting will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.