Santa Paula Times
Unified school board hears
from youth football and others about
use of high school facilities
Published:  January 28, 2015

The Santa Paula Unified School District board room was packed for last week’s regular board meeting, with a few dozen people forced to stand in the lobby.

Most of the crowd was there for the first reading of a board policy concerning the use of school facilities, specifically the Santa Paula High School football field and the gymnasium. Because of the parking issue around the high school, there was a concern among youth football and youth basketball coaches and parents that use of SPHS facilities might be limited on weekends, although they were assured later in the meeting that there was no policy being brought forward to limit use of the high school facilities.

One speaker, Raymond Mora said, “The school is our safe haven for our kids to go. It’s really important that we keep the high school open.” Simon Mata said he was born and raised in Santa Paula and played youth football and high school ball. Now he’s coaching. “There’s not a lot to do around town for kids. We have one skate park, our parks and we have one basketball court,” he said.

Juvenal Magana is President of the Santa Paula Youth Football League (SPYFL). “Our mission is to provide a positive, competitive environment for the kids and to have a sense of community all through the game of football,” he noted. He said they had made some changes in their program to help alleviate the parking situation. “We requested no games after 8 o’clock. We’ve canceled our kickoff. Our kickoff was a big thing to us. We’ve cancelled all pre-season games such as our jamboree which was our biggest fund raiser,” he added. 

Jacob Avila, a member of the SPYFL Board and a coach told the board,  “We’re not Beverly Hills. What we have here is hard working people. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to make sure that we provide the best for our community, which is obviously our children.” Justin Schmidt said he was there to advocate for the youth of SP. “As you can see by the number of people here it’s important to the community that we reconsider our options.” 

Danny Guzman, SPHS Athletic Director said he was concerned over the possibility of  proposed limitations on weekend activities. He added, “Over the course of the last several years we have created a successful program at our school.”  He cited as an example the SPHS athletes who played in the recent East-West football game. He said these players started in the youth football program. He asked that other alternatives be explored. “There are other options to help our neighbors with the parking situation,” he noted.

Vanessa White, the girls’ volleyball coach said they have three consecutive Saturday tournaments that brings in $7,000 to the volleyball program. “I’m not unsympathetic to the folks who live there but it’s a public street,” she said. “They know where they live. Paint those curbs red, give them a permit. There’s lot of issues there, I understand it but we try to be proactive as a volleyball team and when visitors are coming for a program we always send out information, don’t park on Palm Court, you’re going to need to park on adjacent streets.” She said if they lose weekend tournaments they will lose all of their funding. 

Board member Diana Ponce-Gomez noted that there was no policy proposed at this time to limit weekend use. Board President Michelle Kolbeck told the gathering, “The real issue can’t be covered in board policy. The real issue is scheduling. I don’t think were at that point of a master schedule yet. She said each separate entity is doing their scheduling correctly. “The problem is they all don’t feed into one central location and I think that’s what made this very confusing. No one’s arguing that you should not have the functions, it’s just that all of a sudden you have every possible facility being used at the same time and that’s what’s causing the trouble.” She said they need  a master calendar person.  Now’s a good time to start working for the future and, again, we need to work together.”

Lois Zsarnay, who lives near the high school has appeared before the board several times to tell of her problems with parking and she said they need to tell the city council of the dangers of people crossing Santa Paula Street. She also commented on the new Science and Technology building. “The construction is done and the building looks great but we still have the same problem. We need to work toward the future and we need to work with the city council.”  She added that she’s a neighbor of the high school. “I’m not against the use, I’m not against the sports.” She noted that she’d like to see the coaches telling the kids not to throw trash on her yard. She also said people still block her driveway and yell obscenities at her if she complains. “That’s not right, treat me with respect.” 

This was first reading of the proposed board policy and it will come back for approval at the next regular meeting.