State education head lauds schools

Superintendent Jack O’Connell gives thumbs-up to shared resources at Daly City facilities

DALY CITY — New all-weather athletic fields at the Susan B. Anthony Elementary School and Thomas R. Pollicita Middle School in Daly City drew the attention of the state’s highest ranking education official as he breezed through the area on the campaign trail Wednesday.

In town stumpingfor Proposition 1D and gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, state education czar Jack O’Connell praised the effectiveness of such joint-use facilities — the fields are shared between the two neighboring schools — in developing a sense of community and support for schools. Colma, Daly City and the Jefferson School District all contributed funds to create the all-weather field big enough for one international regulation-sized soccer field or two youth-sized fields an area fraught with gopher holes and bad weather.

O’Connell, whose controversial California High School Exit Exam has been legally challenged, also toured a shared gymnasium, and called physical fitness a crucial part of a child’s education. He said quality athletic facilities not only promote healthy living, they also make the surrounding communities more likely to support the schools.

“The voters have been generous, and we need to promote maximum utilization,” O’Connell said of voters’ approval of school bonds and agencies in return sharing the results.

All told, the facilities cost approximately $9 million, Jefferson Superintendent Barbara Wilson said. Wilson said that they began the project at the perfect time two years ago because just after they went to bid, oil prices rose and some of the materials used for the project are oil-based.

The state contributed about $2 million toward the joint facilities, which also included a new gymnasium at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.

The all-weather turf, which has an estimated lifetime of 20 years, will save the school district roughly $20,000 annually due to less maintenance and watering and will triple the time the field can be used, Wilson said. The wet weather of Daly City and gophers took their toll on the former grass field tucked up near San Bruno Mountain’s western slopes.

O’Connell also sat in on English-Language Development classes in Susan B. Anthony, which has 480 students, roughly 275 of which are English language learners. The 57 percent of English learners at Susan B. Anthony is more than double the 22 percent of English learners, or 19,275 students, in the county, according to the latest statistics.

dsmith@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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