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Elk Grove Citizen

PG, LC, Franklin pushing for their own stadiums

Jan 25, 2024 10:06PM ● By John Hull, Citizen Sports Editor

Josh Jackson of PBK Architecture, a consultant for the Elk Grove Unified School District, hosted a community input meeting at Elk Grove High School Jan. 25. Parents and staff from Pleasant Grove and Laguna Creek High School are pushing for stadiums on their campuses as a part of the district’s facility master plan.

Elk Grove (MPG) – A move to build stadiums at high school campuses in the Elk Grove Unified School District which don’t have any is building steam now that the district has begun writing a new facilities master plan.

According to its website, “Elk Grove Unified School District has engaged PBK Architects to assess existing facility conditions and assist in the development of a District-wide Facilities Master Plan (FMP). Once established, the FMP will provide valuable insight regarding both current and future facilities and infrastructure needs and will serve as a guide for decision-making and capital planning.”

The district and PBK have held community input meetings the past few weeks and another one is planned Jan. 31 at Franklin. On Jan. 25, such a gathering was at Elk Grove High School and quite a number of those in attendance were from Pleasant Grove High School, including soccer coach Rich Moorhouse, athletic director Scott Gradin and principal Taigan Keplinger. They made it clear it was time for their school, now 20 years in existence, to have their own stadium.

“Our attendance area is 200 square miles and so having to travel to play a home game, so we have to come up with a bus to travel,” Gradin said at the meeting. “And, some of our parents live 30 minutes away and to ask them to drive another 15 minutes to a stadium that isn’t even on our campus? It feels like we’re invading their territory. Yes, we share a stadium, but Sheldon feels as though it is their stadium. It’s more than just a game for us, it becomes a much more complicated event.”

Currently, Pleasant Grove shares a stadium at Sheldon High School. The Eagles play their home football games there. A year ago the District built them a football/soccer field with artificial turf and a “Mondo” track on its campus. This past summer lights were installed and for the first time Pleasant Grove is playing soccer games on its campus and is hosting track meets. In years past they had to schedule around Sheldon’s soccer and track teams on the Sheldon campus.

“When it comes to the schools with stadiums and those without stadiums there is a huge difference in the amount of support and school spirit,” Moorhouse said. “That stadium brings us all together on game nights, whether it’s track, soccer. It’s much easier to come to your own school that go to (Cosumnes River College) or another school. The number of students who actually participate go up when the activity is on your campus.”

Echoing those sentiments were parents such as Susan Swenson, whose son graduated from Pleasant Grove in 2022.

“Those schools with stadiums have more connection and its odd to have your homecoming at Sheldon High,” Swenson said.

Moorhouse added each high school having its own stadium allows the school to generate revenue from advertising which can’t happen in a shared-stadium arrangement.

It’s been the same issue for Laguna Creek’s outdoor athletic teams. Football for many years was played at Elk Grove High School, but in recent years they’ve played home games at Cosumnes River College. Same thing with soccer. Football coach and math teacher Jason Eres represented Laguna Creek at the Jan. 25 meeting and said there was more than just putting up bleachers in constructing an on-campus stadium.

“The stadium would require the bathrooms, the tickets, snack bar, facilities and security issues like ‘Where do we enter?’” Eres said. “At Laguna, every game we played this year was really an away game. Every game every kid had to get out of school early because they had to go away to play a home game. So every game our kids had to miss class because it wasn’t a home game and they had to travel.”

Football/soccer fields with artificial turf, scoreboards and lights are now at all nine EGUSD comprehensive high school campuses. However, stadiums exist only at Elk Grove, Monterey Trail, Sheldon and Cosumnes Oaks campuses.

EGUSD Chief Facilities Officer Susan Bell told the gathering at Elk Grove High School that it was important for all requests for upgrades of school facilities be made known at this time via the District’s website where there’s an online survey. All the input gathered will be compiled by PBK Architects and a new facilities master plan would be written, according to Josh Jackson, who chaired the community gathering Jan. 25.

Jackson said his company began work on this master plan in November, 2023, and he expects they will make recommendations to the EGUSD Board of Trustees in March, 2024. He said whatever projects the Board approves for construction will then have to be paid for by either a potential school bond, which voters would have to approve, or apply for state matching funds, or both.

The last facilities master plan the District drew up was in 2015. It was 562 pages in length and that resulted in Measure M, the first general obligation school facilities bond measure ever brought by EGUSD. It was placed on the 2016 ballot, voters approved the measure and $476 million was raised for improvements in existing school buildings and grounds.

Other current facilities needs expressed at the Jan. 25 meeting included the request to remove all temporary classrooms across the District, some of which have been in use more than 25 years, and replace them with permanent structures. Several teachers at the meeting described the struggles with teaching in the “temp” classrooms.

Also mentioned by those in attendance were areas of campuses where fencing is insufficient along with concerns that some schools have safety issues with automobile traffic, particularly before and after school sessions.