Redlands East Valley parents pressure school board for safer sports fields

By MIRIAM YORDANOS

Jill Green, PTSA member, REV Gridiron Booster Club board member and REV Wildcat football parent, speaks at the March 10 school board meeting. Green spoke about equity of safe fields among the high schools in the Redlands Unified School District. (Emily Walos/ Ethic Photo)

 Redlands East Valley High School families are still struggling to secure improvements for the athletics facilities with the help of the Redlands Unified School District.

Alex Vara, a RUSD board member, said how enrollment in RUSD is decreasing  with a projection of 1000 students in the next 7 years, and 9 million dollars has been saved since 2015 to build another school because Loma Linda plans to expand. On Feb. 11, 2020, during the RUSD monthly board meeting, RUSD board members recognized REV’s  inadequate athletic fields and discussed potentially using the money to fund stadiums, turf and track fields. 

Kero Adeib, a REV junior football and soccer player, spoke out at the board meeting about sprained ankles,  knee injuries and incidents occurring on REV fields. Adeib said, “To us, this is an attack on our future.” 

Injuries resulting on the fields have led to student athletes missing out on opportunities that could further advance them as athletes. For example, Kapena Kamakawiwoole, a senior football and soccer player, described how he wasn’t able to play soccer for a year due to injuries.

Kamakawioole said, “Because of how unsafe the fields are that football and soccer uses along with many other sports and activities, I was unable to partake in things I love doing. These fields took that away for me. And all I ask is for a safe field so that no one else gets their passion taken away from them.”

Currently, REV uses “district fields,” such as the Dodge Stadium and Hodges Stadium, to compete in home games due to not having their own facilities. Yet, the Dodge Stadium and Hodges Stadium are decorated with the mascot markings of the Blackhawk and the Terriers. This makes it apparent that those fields are not truly district fields.

Cecilla Kamakawiwoole, a parent of a Wildcat football and soccer player, said, “Why is it, that every year, REV football and soccer have to fight for access to these districts fields?”

On March 10, 2020, the board met again for their monthly board meeting. 

Jill Green, PTSA member, REV Gridiron Booster Club board member and REV Wildcat football parent, brought up how former REV head football coach Kurt Bruich left due to demolishing fields. According to Green, in a speech given to the School Board, Coach Bruich sent an email to the entire football team and families revealing he couldn’t imagine spending the next couple of years constantly repairing the fields everyday and his coaching staff deserved to be working with a more substantial field.

Green said, “Don’t we want to make sure that all of the schools within our school district have equitable facilities to prevent coaches and teachers from bouncing from one school to another? Don’t we want to ensure that every student is able to participate fully in a safe and equitable environment?”

Not only are athletes affected by traveling to another facility for home games, REV Gridiron football booster club, which helps coordinate the logistics of meal planning, the home game snack bar, health department permits and more, faces challenges that include making sure home game facilities are unlocked and food vendors and volunteers are able to set up. Students therefore have limited access to community service opportunities due to needing transportation to another school. Green stated that having a stadium would increase community pride through greater involvement of parents and students because of a more reasonable event location.

Michelle Juarez, a REV parent, said, “We do need to have at least a long term plan in place to support the students of REV to be allowed to enjoy the same amenities as their sister schools without the added time to travel to and from home events as well as the extra expenditures incurred in traveling for those home events.”

Michelle Juarez speak at the podium during the Redlands School Board Meeting about Redlands East Valley sport fields conditions. Juarez spoke about the excessive travel time and costs associated with not having home athletic facilities. (Emily Walos / Ethic Photo)

According to the California Department of Education, every year, by February 1, schools in California have to release a school accountability report card. These SARC can be found online. Every year, REV does not report how unsafe the fields are for students to play on. 

Juarez mentioned how there are multiple sections and improvements of the sport fields that could have been reported. Yet, never has it been reported as a critical need, student objective, school facility condition or on section C.

In the SARC, section C refers to engagement. It is to provide a report on the “effort the school district makes to seek parent input in making decisions for the school district and each school site.” REV parents have requested a stadium numerous times over several years to the school and the board; however, it was not published onto the report card.

The report card published during the 2019-20 school year reporting on the previous 2018-2019 school year touches upon how much money REV boosters collect for athletic programs, funds which are used to pay for the transportations to and from home games. It was not reported how Citrus Valley and Redlands High School do not need to use money from boosters to pay for these extra necessities for a home game due to having a stadium.

 Juarez said that a parent spoke with Brian Guggisberg about donations made to RUSD for the stadiums in October 2015. According to Juarez,  it was explained that all the money would be deposited into an account that is controlled and invested by the county of San Bernardino. Any return rates the county receives on the amounts donated will be added as well, and any person may call the district office to learn what the balance of the fundraising efforts are at any time.

Guggisberg, RUSD fiscal services director,  plans and administers for the school district a budget in excess of $150 million through budgeting, accounting, auditing, payrolls, purchasing, and more.

In a previous board meeting, she brought this up to Guggisberg and he did not remember such an account. 

During discussion, the board members stated that they will have a workshop on April 23 at 4:45 pm to view a presentation, created by the business department of RUSD, showing exactly how much it would be to revise and create a safer field and stadium. In previous meetings, the board had discussed forming a committee but did not make any commitments. 

At the time this article was published, it was not clear if the workshop would proceed to due COVID-19 precautions and protocols.

One Reply to “Redlands East Valley parents pressure school board for safer sports fields”

  1. As a member of the REV football program, I am very connected with the issue of our sports fields. We have to rotate the fields that we practice on because the grass gets torn up so quickly. There are many areas that should not be used to practice or play on due to mud, hard dirt, and holes. But it is necessary because there is nowhere else. Having to play in those conditions and being the subjects of endless ridicule takes a toll physically and mentally. It also drives away potential recruits and coaches as seen in the case of Kurt Bruich. The most successful coach in Wildcat history was lost to a rival because of our fields. I still remember reading the email that Bruich sent out announcing his departure. Everyone involved in outside sports at REV is disadvantaged, and it should not be that way. The lack of a stadium and home-field advantage is a remarkable challenge that makes REV’s achievements even more outstanding.

    Like

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