“Safe, Warm, & Dry” was the slogan that helped convince 70% plus of voters in our School District to pass a $120 million bond measure in 2016 to upgrade long-neglected (i.e., “blighted”) school sites where kids are often educated.
It didn’t take a Frank Lloyd Wright to see that ancient facilities with leaky roofs, patched-up HVAC systems, drafty buildings, and etc. were no place to introduce young readers to “Dick and Jane: the Early Years,” or study STEM, tweeting, or whatever kids learn these days. And no need to get graphic about some of the restrooms, where even the rats went outside to pee.
Still, “Safe, Warm, & Dry” was pure marketing genius, or “branding” as they call it, but only because “bullsh*t” is overused. Oh, sure – roofs are getting patched, windows replaced, soap dispensers installed, and the AC fixed, but getting the most attention – and blowback – is: The New Football Stadium!
Yes, $5 million of that bond money is ticketed for a new 2,500-seat Astroturf’d high school football complex, with lights bright enough to power a mission to Pluto. Upon discovering that, many who voted for Measure E felt snookered, especially the Un-Woke who thought schools were places to learn stuff.
Not that they weren’t forewarned. Buried in plain sight in the 1,156 words of Measure E (mailed to every voting household) was: “Modernize, renovate, rehabilitate, re-configure, expand, upgrade and/or equip . . . physical education/athletic fields and related facilities for school and community use.” Listed under ‘School Site Health, Safety and Security Projects’ was: “Renovate, repair, resurface, upgrade, expand, construct and/or install . . . play and outside instructional areas, playfields, including turf, physical education/athletic fields and related facilities . . .”
Or as Attorney General William Barr summarized it: “Big lighted stadium with Astroturf.”
Inconveniently, it’s being built just as kids are losing interest in playing football. Not all of them, mind you – mostly those whose prissy-pansy parents realize that a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from playing football could doom their kid’s chances of getting into Stanford, Harvard or even hospice.
How popular is high school football these days? Given the need to substitute for injured players and fill both offensive and defensive rosters, the 2019 Dragon squad couldn’t reliably field a team without tapping the junior varsity. It didn’t help recruiting to appreciate that younger, smaller JV players can often get pureed by the opposition’s larger and more experienced varsity. [NOTE: To avoid a 15-yard penalty for piling on, further reference to the Dragons’ 2019 football season has been stricken.]
Local youth aren’t alone in their waning football interest. According to the New York Times, participation in high school football is down 10% nationwide over the past decade.
While growing enthusiasm for less violent recreation such as soccer and cannabis undoubtedly explains part of the decline, much of it is attributed to the real and growing concern about football’s Traumatic Injury to Brains; i.e., those tofu-like things at the focus of every school’s “Mission Statement” (pardon the branding).
A final perspective of possible relevance: While Measure E money can only be spent on ‘facilities,’ not actual education, the $5 million ticketed for the new stadium would pay for four full years of tuition at UC Berkeley for 100 Sonoma Valley High kids – i.e., over 100% of the 2019 Dragon grads who left for a 4-year college. Something to ponder while sitting in that new stadium on Graduation Day – Safe, Warm & Dry.