By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
For basketball games, drama productions and school dances, students of Don Pedro and Tioga high schools must hit the road.
Neither campus has a gymnasium so these south Tuolumne County high school students have to drive or ride a bus to practice, perform or pirouette at Tenaya Elementary School's gymnasium.
That's why Measure A, a $5.75 million bond, is on November's ballot. Passage of the bond issue would allow Big Oak Flat-Groveland District to build two gyms and modernize the two high schools and Tenaya Elementary School.
Currently, all three schools use Tenaya's gymnasium.
"It's so impacted because both high schools have to use (the gym) too," said Dodie Heiny, co-chairwoman for the committee in support of Measure A. "One plus is that Tenaya Elementary will get its gym back."
And the community will finally be able to make use of it, Heiny said.
The bond would guarantee residents of the Don Pedro and Groveland communities at least 20 hours per week at each of the new high school gymnasiums.
If passed, Measure A will cost south county property owners $60 per $100,000 of assessed evaluation of taxable property per year.
"If your house is valued at $100,000, then you're paying just $5 a month," Heiny said.
District Superintendent John Triolo said some have asked why the school district is proposing to build now, when enrollment numbers have flattened in recent years.
"It's our one chance for the state to pay for both those projects," Triolo said, referring to an opportunity to receive funds from the state. That chance will expire in June.
"There's a strong feeling that it will encourage students to stay on the hill," he added, referring to the number of Groveland area teens who attend or ask to attend Sonora High School.
Plans for the two gyms are identical. Each would include bleachers, locker rooms with showers and restrooms, offices and a performance area.
Site work such as landscaping and road and parking improvements would also be covered by the bond.
An independent Citizens' Oversight Committee would ensure that bond money would not be used to hire teachers, increase current teacher salaries or for school operating expenses.
"We'll be able to apply for the modernization (of the three campuses)," said Superintendent John Triolo. "But the modernization is dependent upon Prop. 47."
The state's $13 billion school bond, Proposition 47 is also on the Nov. 5 ballot. Should that pass, the share for Big Oak Flat-Groveland District would pay for renovating and refurbishing the three campus' buildings.
"I think it's about time that the district and community go together to ensure that the students have necessary facilities for their high schools," Triolo said.