OPINION / GUEST COMMENTARY:
Thank you to the La Jolla Town Council for providing the opportunity for me and Athletic Director Paula Conway to answer questions about access to the La Jolla High School Stadium at their Oct. 12, 2017 meeting.
Over the last year, I've had several meetings with community members who are interested in using the track for recreational use and who have found it frustrating that the stadium is locked after school hours. I understand their frustration given the limited park space in La Jolla.
However, due to concerns about safety and vandalism, in addition to limited district funds budgeted for long-term maintenance or repairs, La Jolla High School's new stadium, which opened in October 2016, is gated in order to preserve its longevity for students. I think it is important to note that there is no official precedent for any San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) high school facilities to be open to the public.
Although taxpayers approved the bond money used to build the stadium, this does not confer public access to the facility — just as public access is not available to fire, police or military facilities. Public schools are built for students.
That being said, when not in use by the high school, SDUSD does rent the stadium to interested groups. Rental fees include payment for liability insurance, security and custodial staff.
As principal of La Jolla High School, my No. 1 priority is managing the daily operation of the school, which is no small task. As much as I would like all of our neighbors to be happy, I cannot take on the job of managing the recreational use of the stadium for the community.
I encourage anyone interested in renting the La Jolla stadium to e-mail SDUSD: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, The Coggan Family Aquatic Center (which is privately owned and NOT affiliated with La Jolla High or SDUSD) is a public pool and a treasure to the community for recreational use.
La Jolla High School has been a hardworking contributor to The Village of La Jolla for nearly 100 years, improving property values and educating thousands of young people for nearly five generations. We rely on the overall SDUSD budget to manage our school — and it's never easy. As administrators, we have a responsibility to care for our property and assure it will last for future students.
Your partnership with La Jolla High School within our small community has always been important. We enthusiastically encourage you to join us for sporting events, theatrical performances and academic presentations.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
— Chuck Podhorsky, Ed.D.
Principal, La Jolla High School