School District prioritized sports over education

Posted on August 29, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees decided to pour the money that we voted to go to the educational needs described in the Bond Issue to athletic fields instead. The field at Altimira is locked and as there are no students in school, thus it is not used at all by the students. I suspect the same goes for Adele Harrison. 

When I voted for the bond issue, I did so to support the education of our students and it never occurred to me that the District would prioritize spending some $5 million on the Altimira Field and even more on the High School. This was not what I voted for and as the saying goes: “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” I am not going to vote for any future school bond issues as I cannot trust the District to put the educational needs of the children before its priority for sports fields over education. 

Now we find ourselves in a lockdown situation with the pandemic and the need for computers for the students is greater than ever. In the meetings that I attended in 2018, when the matter of spending money on computers was raised by concerned attendees, the District said that such expenditure was not planned for three more years. That means that the computers that we thought we were voting for will not be made available to the students currently attending SVHS. So a whole school generation lost out on this educational tool so we could have sports fields that are rarely used by the students. Even though the District somehow coughed up an additional $2 million to complete the Altimira field due to “cost overruns”, they still did not put in the field events: long jump, etc. that were in the plans. Why wasn’t the contractor held to the contract? How come there was an extra $2 million to finish the field but nothing for student computers? 

The engineers answered my questions and concerns about the retention pond with assurances that the water would go down into and replenish the aquifer as required by the State. This didn’t happen. The pond became a stagnant pool that ultimately had to be pumped out. A pipe was run from the empty drained pond to the storm drain: so much for replenishing the aquifer. It all drains into the creek and out to the bay not into our renewable Valley water supply. That pipe has been there since I complained about the stagnant pond at the end of last winter and I don’t see any signs of the construction company adhering to the contract and state law and directing that water back into the aquifer.  And I don’t see the District holding the contractor to the terms of the contract. I think the District is better at spending money than upholding contract enforcement.

We couldn’t see the pandemic coming, but the District tricked the voters into thinking the money would go to education and then once they got the money, they spent it on whatever the Board wanted. This is malfeasance or misfeasance, depending on what one thinks the Board’s actual authority was in enacting the people’s will. Now we have fields that cannot be used and the students, who could really use new computers to help them in this pandemic, get nothing. 

Good going SVUSD!

— Charlie Estudillo, Altimira School neighbor


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