Jefferson upgrades kick off

Terra Nova High School’s athletic director Bill Gray said he has spent too many hours cutting the grass and fixing the irrigation system on the school’s 45-year-old football field. So when a construction crew began demolishing the old field last week to install new synthetic grass, aluminum bleachers, lights, a track and new restrooms, he immediately welcomed the workers.

Renovation of the Terra Nova field, as well as a similar project at Jefferson High School, is the first step in the long-awaited $136.9 million facelift for the Jefferson Union High School District as a result of a $136.9 million bond passed in 2006.

Over the next few years, the district will equip Westmoor, Oceana, Terra Nova and Jefferson high schools with new fields. There will also be a new pool for Westmoor, a new gym for Jefferson and science labs for both schools.

Terra Nova, built in the early 1960s, and Jefferson, whose field dates to the 1950s, were in dire need of change, Supervisor Mike Crilly said.

“I would hope this improvement creates a healthy environment for learning and there will be a payoff in test scores,” he said.

Gray, who has worked at Terra Nova for 18 years, said the fields were infested with gophers, the bleachers were in disrepair and did not accommodate enough people, the baseball field had become unplayable, and the track had deteriorated down to the rock structure underneath, making its use spare and difficult.

“The new field is not maintenance-free, but you don’t have to worry about gophers,” he said. “It will make things better for everybody and the community as well.”

The renovation was supposed to begin in the summer, but was delayed and then rescheduled to begin after the end of the football season. Gray said that was a good financial decision, because home football games are the biggest revenue producer for the athletic department.

Construction, scheduled to be finished next summer, has not been problem-free. Terra Nova soccer teams have to play home games at Skyline College and Oceana High School, while the track and field program may be reduced for this year.

Jefferson High School Principal Lou Silberman said current construction is not too disruptive, but the school is trying to figure out where its soccer, baseball and softball teams will play when their fields are renovated next year.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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