Looking at the Facility Needs for Emerson and Davis High School

There were a lot of strange looks at the Facilities Masterplan introduced back on December 18 to the Davis School Board. The ultimate price for the long and exhaustive wish list was $200 million. Some asked what the value of such a pie-in-the-sky masterplan was, and they would be right to a certain extent. However forgotten there is the fact that this the beginning of the process, not the end of the process of developing a masterplan. Everything possible is now on the table and now begins the process of winnowing down to a workable and realistic plan.

There were two projects however that are not going to wait that long. The highest priority project right now is the track and football field at the Davis High School. Second on the list is upgrades to Emerson Junior High School.

The costs for these projects are considerable, their need is great however.

The school board put the Track and Field as the highest priority. Some in West Davis are undoubtedly groaning. However, there is a logic here that needs to be understood. You get a sense of it watching the presentation on the state of the field. I got a sense of it talking to a few high school students who use the field as well. Basically it is a big safety hazard in several different ways.





The two biggest are the condition of the track itself which makes for treacherous footing and has resulted in numerous injuries. Also the condition of the stands is very dangerous and has also caused numerous injuries. In short, it is a safety hazard and a huge liability for the school district.

The changes needed at Emerson fall into the code compliance category. I’m not going to say they are aren’t potential safety hazards but they are not immediate safety hazards. Moreover, according to the consultant the need to make these upgrades is not as immediate. What he told the board was that until the school district has to work on these facilities, they do not need to make the upgrades. Once they work on the facility they would have to upgrade it. That gives the district some time to play with.




The basic hope is that some of the money needed to upgrade the track and field complex at the high school can be raised privately through the Blue and White Foundation. At the meeting, Foundation president Michael McDermott said that the Foundation has raised about $200,000 and has pledges for another $100,000, numbers paled of course by the $5 to $10 million project.

The school district does not have much money in their facilities fund. They basically used the rest of it to complete the King High construction. The $4.5 million that the district got from Montgomery went to pay off the bond they took out for King High when the district discovered that they were lacking the money they thought they had for the project.

There is expressed concern that this means that Emerson will close. There have certainly been rumors to that effect. However, the most important thing that came to light during the meeting on December 18 is the fact that really, Emerson’s needs are not huge safety concerns. Emerson according to what we heard and what Board Member Tim Taylor said is not suffering from deteriorating conditions to its buildings. What it needs is to become code compliant and that is something that is neither an immediate need nor urgent.

Moreover, all five board member expressed some form of support for Emerson, it is just they all recognized that the safety hazards of the high school track push that need to front.

As mentioned previous Mr. Taylor dismissed concerns about deteriorating conditions at Emerson as not borne out by surveys by district architects. Board President Gina Daleiden said that the projects are not mutually exclusive. Sheila Allen emphasized the importance of the academic program and facilities at Emerson. Susan Lovenburg wants the planning for a modernization of Emerson to be further fleshed out.

She said:

“I’d like to see some phased-in approaches to Emerson’ as well as ‘some exploration of different types of programs that could attract additional funding from state, federal and private sources.”

In short, as I have been stating all along here, I do not think people at Emerson have all that much to worry about assuming that the district can find ways to remain in the black. The most important asset that Emerson has going for it right now is geography, the logistics of closing it would be considerable.

So while DHS has been pushed up to the front, Emerson seems in good stead.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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40 Comments

  1. DHS Sports Fan

    Putting the track around the playing field is a HUGE mistake. The track should be put outside the stadium with a practice field for football, field hockey and lacrosse on the track infield. The resulting stadium would be far superior and more intimate for fans and players, as well as somewhat smaller. There is enough room to do it right. Tracks around playing fields distance the fans from the players and create a poor experience for all. They are an anachronism. Go to Folsom High and see what a mistake they made. The first row of seats are about 30 yards from the sideline. DHS can do better.

  2. Rich Rifkin

    …The track should be put outside the stadium with a practice field for football, field hockey and lacrosse on the track infield….I agree with you. However, there is no room for a new full quarter-mile track anywhere else. Before the old practice football field (south of Halden) was removed and the old tennis courts were taken out and the new gym was built, your idea for a separate track could have been accomplished south of Halden Field. Now, that is not the case.If you look at this satellite image, it appears clear that the open space for a track just does not exist.Nonetheless, your point that the football audience is too far from the field is a good one in my opinion.So how about this alternative: Have the school district share with UCD Toomey Field (which has a first class track) for its T&F needs? That would save a lot of money — the district could pay rent — and would allow the reconstructed Davis High football stands to be much closer to the field of play.The only downside would be that the T&F athletes at Davis High would have to bicycle about 1 mile to go to practice, whereas now the track is adjacent to the DHS campus.

  3. Tom

    DHS Sports Fan: "Putting the track around the playing field is a HUGE mistake"1. there is no room for it be somewhere else as Rich Rifkin mentioned.2. The Track team would not be able to hold section meets that would be a major revenue generator for the school.Rich Rifkin:"Have the school district share with UCD Toomey Field (which has a first class track) for its T&F needs? "Answer: The School gets charged 15k for every event held at the UCD. Because UCD is a division 1 school, NCAA rules prohibit any type of "free use" by high school athletes.Also a major problem with the track and field is safety issues becuase it is used by PE year round as a class room. Another reason why some level of renovation is needed.

  4. Davis parent

    The DJUSD, only weeks after we gave them another pile of money, voted to pay a mid-level financial …manager… $175,000 per year! (How many teachers would that support? 7 @ entry level; three @ higher levels?)Impressive overstatement. What will you think of next? Maybe argue that schools get rid of fresh salads?Colby's salary in the last contract was $150,000/year (maybe $155K). The fair argument is over the $25K increase.How many teachers will that cover? Probably the even more relevant, how much does DSF/others lose in potential fundraising because people who donated last year may be put off by Colby's increase? Maybe an additional $20-$40K? That, with Colby's increase, and you could have saved a teacher.Now you start to have a plausible argument. I don't think you'll convince very many that you can completely eliminate Colby's job and have the district function appropriately in these times. After all, some of the past financial mess occurred in transition from Ahad to Colby.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    That's a good point Davis Parent. I think Colby is fairly close to irreplaceable at this point. Certainly wouldn't want to wade through a crisis without a good budget director, for my money Colby is.I opposed his pay increase on two grounds.First, I don't think it sends the right message during this time. I too do not think it will have a huge detrimental effect symbollically or in actuality, but it was the wrong message to give your No.2 guy a raise. All salaries should be frozen right now, imo.Second, they have basically filled that money by not filling another position. They are already shorthanded in that office to begin with, that's a concern. But more importantly that's money that cannot be freed up down the line when you have to look at cutting teachers. It's half a position, but we might need that flexibility.Still, the original poster way overstates the issue, but he or she is generally shown to have an axe to grind and if I am correct has spent considerable time complaining about the crunch lunch program which is not a drain on district resources at all.

  6. Papa Jon

    Sorry about that old comment (I have just figured out how to delete it forever!)I went to a high school with 1800 students (10th -12th grades) and NO football stadium, only a track. We did just fine without a stadium as could Davis High. Using Toomey Field is an option that should be considered. This kind of money should be spent on education or, at least, bring Emerson up to code. I would say offhand that having a fire alarm system not up to code is a safety issue, not to mention other items on the list shown.

  7. djusd parent

    It would seem to me that having up to date and working fire resistance and detection systems would be a critical safety feature of a school building. I don’t understand how it does not represent a safety hazard.Re no plans to close Emerson, the district is currently talking to parents about possibly reconfiguring grade levels for junior high and high school (moving 9th graders to the high school). The reason was not directly stated in the meeting I attended where this was raised, but I had the feeling that the closure of a junior high might be behind such a reconfiguration – to make room at the remaining two. Maybe my speculation is wrong, though.

  8. Anonymous

    Was Emerson shoddily built? Holmes was opened in 1966 and there is no cry to close it because of maintenance issues. Someone must have been asleep at the switch when they allowed the school to be built to such low standards.

  9. Bushs Fist

    Please all readers of this blog , and the owner of this blog, donate $5 dollars a day to help fix these schools ..Can we count on your support ?????hell noo, you cannot! Well, well. Now the field upgrade is necessary because of …unsafe conditions…. This is how they justify upgrading the DHS sports stuff during an economic downturn, after they just got finished telling us we needed to tax to save teachers, and after that tax the salary increases. They still have their hands out. They put their hands out faster than you can fill them. I suppose another tax is in the works too btw.If I give a dime to the davis schools foundation, I may as well tatoo the word …sucker… across my forhead. I just want to know what the new tax increase is going to be named. Lets see… …P…, no, …Q…… no, …W……. no. Are there any letters in the alphabet left? Maybe so, but by the end of this decade their won’t be.But it is not the school boards fault and the davis schools foundations fault for taking advantage of suckers. As long as we donate $ we may as well write …take advantage of me… on our shirts.Sometimes I really hate this town.

  10. Bushs Fist

    Now the excuse to upgrade sports in the middle of an economic downturn when people are hurting for $ and cannot make their mortgage payments is …safety…. If you don’t give us the $ we request for fancy field upgrades, you are neglecting …maitenance…. That is an excuse they can use to justify every upgrade under the sun. We need a new computer lab because the current computers are …breaking down… and require …maitenance….We need a new …music hall… because the current one is in …disrepair…We need a new cafeteria because the current one has …maitenance issues…We need a new sports complex because the current one has …maitenance issues….We need a new theater for the arts because….We need new library upgrades because….see the pattern? Are you getting the picture now!! We need a new state of the art science center because…We need a new math lab because…and the people will just hold their wallets out and say …reach in… take whatever you like!!This is how Davis Schools have been run for years, and it will never end.Do you teach your children they can have an unlimited allowance?Do mom and dad get unlimited salaries?Yet the Davis School board does.What a lesson to teach children.

  11. DHS Parent

    I tell you what Fist, why don’t you go to the field and job around the track and walk up and down the stands, come back on here and report on the conditions yourself before you open your mouth again on something you obviously have no clue about. No one is going to pass any measures to fix this stuff, what is most likely going to happen is that they’ll use the proceeds from Grande to fix DHS.

  12. Sue Greenwald

    Obama has said that one of the cornerstones of his fiscal stimulus program will be money for modernization of schools.If the district has projects shovel-ready, perhaps there is hope for federal help.

  13. Anonymous

    David the slides said in part.Wood components not protected from decay and termites.Supports for lights, pipes, and conduits not adequate or seismically braced.Members in need of repair or replacement.Not code compliant for fire, heat, smoke, doors and other hardware.Not a structural problem? I disagree heartily.I didn’t say the place was going to fall down at any time but it certainly looks like shoody construction. Especially since it’s not as old as Holmes.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    Okay. When I think structural problem, I think structural integrity, which seems alright. The only thing that you list that could be an actual imminent problem is:…Members in need of repair or replacement….The non-code compliant stuff have to do with newer laws passed since it was built. So it was code compliant when built but now needs modernization. At least as was described.Someone with a longer memory than me may know if Holmes has undergone any modernization.

  15. wdf

    David,An excerpt of an Enterprise article from a few years ago that begins to answer your question and adds some context:Work under way at area campusesDavis Enterprise, The (CA) – Thursday, September 16, 2004 Author: Jeff Hudson/Enterprise staff writerConstruction worker Gary Ellingsworth looks over plans for a new science room in former English rooms 10-13 at Holmes Junior High. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo Construction workers in hard hats are sharing several Davis campuses with students toting backpacks this year – part of the long-planned modernization work that is going on around the Davis school district. The modernization process was set in motion in May 2000, when local voters overwhelmingly approved Measure K, a $26 million facilities bond designed to build two new elementary schools and a new junior high school, and modernize all existing campuses with the exception of Patwin Elementary. Patwin, which opened in 1992, wasn’t old enough to qualify for modernization work.If you want to research this more, you can access the Davis Enterprise archives with your Davis Public Library card # at the library website.The portal to those archives and others is here.

  16. Bushs Fistula

    Bush’s Fist said……Now the excuse to upgrade sports in the middle of an economic downturn when people are hurting for $ and cannot make their mortgage payments is …safety…. If you don’t give us the $ we request for fancy field upgrades, you are neglecting …maitenance…. That is an excuse they can use to justify every upgrade under the sun. etc….I am so with you, dude!I don’t want anything wasted on our schools until they approach third world conditions.My parents and grandparents went to schools in worse conditions than this. Why can’t your kids?I can’t stand that residents care so much about this community that they will willingly hand over more than minimal taxes to improve things.The outrage!!!Phrases like community investment scare me, because now plenty of other caring parents are going to move here because everyone is saying, …Davis is a great place to raise kids….Bah! Humbug!!!You and I should move out of here and start our own desert island utopia.

  17. Rich Rifkin

    …Answer: The School gets charged 15k for every event held at the UCD….Is that not much cheaper, short run and long run, than how much it will cost to put in the new track?…Because UCD is a division 1 school, NCAA rules prohibit any type of …free use… by high school athletes….What does …free use… mean? Can you point me to a source which makes you believe that? My idea was not to permit unorganized high schoolers to roam over Toomey. Rather, that DHS track and field athletes could use it (in agreement with UCD) for practice and events.Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see the need for non-athletes to have access to a first class track. If they want to jog, I think they can do so without a track.

  18. Anonymous

    If there is any money that should be spent, they should spend it on retrofiting the place to be environmentally friendly. The fact that the lights haven’t been changed out to induction lights (these save up to 80% on lighting bills) and cuts the carbon footprint of this supposedly …green… community. The fact that DJUSD has not invested in solar energy to power the schools means that DJUSD likes to spend loads of money on their energy bill and perpetuate the tons of emission into the air. If they had done a retrofit like they should have years ago, they would probably have the money to upgrade the schools from the savings. But oh well, not even Davis wants to bother. When are we going to live up to our …green… label?

  19. DHS Sports Fan

    Rich,There is indeed room for a track outside the stadium. Moving the track reduces the stadium footprint. Ruining the stadium for all other sports for possibly hosting one track meet every few years (at best) is stupid and would cost the school far more revenue than they would ever make up at a rare CIF section meet where CIF gets the gate. Construction costs will also be reduced. Toomey would be fine but UCD has never been interested in helping our local school sports programs. Sad, but true.

  20. Becky

    What construction company thinks it takes millions to do the stands and millions more for everthing else? Everthing does not have to be done. The track could just be fixed not redone but the bleacher seats suck and gotta go. Give me a million and I am sure I could travel the word and come back and fix the bleachers, something smells.phase one not two should be to fix the stands and infill the track.

  21. DHS Sports Fan

    Rich,Paralell to Covell. Delete that practice baseball/softball diamond and improve the third. You don’t need 3 diamonds. Piece of cake. Remember, deleting the track gem the stadium allows more compact stadium footprint and more seats in less space. Muchmuch better. That’s why only complete morons build football or soccer stadiums with tracks these days.

  22. Anonymous

    No. The girls would be happy and better off with an improved diamond. You don’t need 3 diamonds. 1 for baseball and 1 for softball does it There is a third diamond I community park as well as numerous diamonds elsewhere for other uses. It is totally insane to spend $30 million on an antiquated concept. Time to get out of the out of the mediocrity box.

  23. Anonymous

    DHS student said…..Ya anon 8:49…. I really don’t think their is room for it. Also I think the Baseball and softball teams would be really upset. Have you ever been there on a fall or spring day after school? If you have you would know that it is pretty crowded over their.

  24. More of the Same

    I find it very interesting that not too long ago the School Board/District was going to close Emerson bc the renovations were …necessary… and …too costly…. Now the renovations are …not necessary right now…, and …not too costly…. Bottom line – the situation is whatever the School District/Board says it is, to pick the pockets of taxpayers. How long do taxpayers want to keep writing a blank check to the School District? We just passed a parcel tax, and what does the School Board/District do with it? Give a salary increase to Bruce Colby – a top level administrator. Expect more of the same…

  25. David M. Greenwald

    …I find it very interesting that not too long ago the School Board/District was going to closeEmerson bc the renovations were …necessary… and …too costly…….To be accurate, the School Board discussed the possibility of closing Emerson mainly because it would save the district roughly $600K when they were facing several million in budget cuts. Other considerations also including the need for renovations. However, the full study did not come out until June. They were making their preliminary discussions basically in crisis mode without the full facts. They have since learned that the situation is not nearly as bad as was first feared in terms of the urgency of repairs.They have also determined that the logistical problems of geography will make it difficult to close down Emerson.

  26. Anonymous

    …You and I should move out of here and start our own desert island utopia….It really sucks when you have to work around the needs and interests of others in your community, doesn’t it?

  27. Rich Rifkin

    Sports Fan: …Paralell to Covell. Delete that practice baseball/softball diamond and improve the third….That does work geographically. I hadn’t considered getting rid of a baseball field. When I was a Blue Devil (long, long ago) that’s where JV baseball was. The JV games were held at the same time as the Varsity games, so there was a need for two facilities. If that is no longer the case and they don’t have a need for a second baseball field, then you may have the answer.

  28. Joel Smith

    Anon 9:15 AM:…Rich Rifkin you shoulda stuck with sports , because you suck at what you do now ……Are you capable of contributing relevant ideas under your own name?All I see is an anonymous personal attack that adds nothing to the discussion and has no credibility.If I were a blog administrator, I’d have deleted this comment.

  29. Rich Rifkin

    …At the meeting, Foundation president Michael McDermott said that the Foundation has raised about $200,000 and has pledges for another $100,000, numbers paled of course by the $5 to $10 million project….David,Sorry if you answered this already, but do you know if the district wants a new bond to pay for these projects? Even if Grande brings in a lot of money when it’s sold, that doesn’t come close to the millions either Emerson or the athletic facilities will cost.

  30. Anonymous

    The DJUSD's demands for more & more of our money are ludicrous. Davis voters have been generous to a fault in supporting our public schools, and each time we approve a new tax or assessment the Board says they need even more.I love track & field, stadiums, sports, enhanced teacher salaries and saving academic programs. BUT, I'm not going to vote for ANY additional taxes.The DJUSD, only weeks after we gave them another pile of money, voted to pay a mid-level financial "manager" $175,000 per year! (How many teachers would that support? 7 @ entry level; three @ higher levels?)And, if you're still arguing for a latte a month to help the schools, please note that they now want an ADDITIONAL $5 per day! That equates to an ADDITIONAL property tax lien of $1,825 per year for every homeowner in Davis!It's time to say NO to any more taxes for our schools. We have been generous, but now it's up to the DJUSD Board to wisely spend the money we have given them.

  31. David M. Greenwald

    Correction:Bruce Colby’s initial contract was $150,000 with a five percent raise per year. This current contract continues that 5% increase for three years. Thus there is no $25,000 increase.My position is the same, just wanted to make sure my facts were accurate.

  32. Becky Linvill

    In November of 2007, it was said that Measure Q would maintain and preserve the excellent academic programs of the Davis schools for the next 3 years. So, I voted to continue the $200 per year tax. In the Spring of this year, the Davis Schools Foundation started its campaign due to threatened state budget cuts of $4 million. So, I volunteered for DSF and wrote large checks to donate $365 for both of my children. Many Davis residents did the same; some even sacraficed their vacations. I have never donated that much money to any organization outside of my church, and it took money out of our savings to do so. In November of this year, it was said that Measure W would preserve the excellent academic programs of the Davis schools for the next 3 years. So, I voted to add $120 per year to the parcel tax.The reason I’m relaying this information, is that for over one year the DJUSD has had to tighten its belt, eliminate positions, cut back on the budget, etc., and Davis residents have done the same and shown their unwavering support for public education. How can DJUSD include …dream… items in the repair of the DHS stadium and the repair of Emerson Junior High? If the current stadium does not meet CA state requirements for PE classes, how much would it cost to repair the current stadium to meet the requirements? During this difficult economic time, we don’t need a bigger …first-class… stadium like the ones in Folsom and Granite Bay. Let’s fix the dirt, hammer out the protruding nails, repair the boards for the seats, and get out the paint brush.If Emerson Jr. High had a science portable added to the school, how much would it cost to repair Emerson to meet CA state requirements? During this difficult economic time, we don’t need …dream… items like the all-weather track that are included in the $10-$17 million repair figure. If there is a way to delay ADA requirements, can we delay that? Are there other items in the repair figure that aren’t absolutely necessary?The last year has not been a time to …dream… about unnecessary expenses, and now is certainly not the time either. It is a shame that the School Board chose to prioritize a new $10 million plus stadium over repairs to an existing Jr. High.

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