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Guest editorial: New events center planned for Grossmont is needed

Posted: December 25th, 2015 | Editorial, Featured, Guest Editorial, Opinion | 3 Comments

By Marta Jiacoletti

As one of the oldest high schools in San Diego County, founded 95 years ago, Grossmont High School has always offered San Diego’s East County students the opportunity to experience the richness of the performing arts through music, drama and dance.

The performing arts program at Grossmont has had a significant impact on school culture and academic success. It also is recognized for its outstanding programs, so it’s no surprise that it is very popular among students. More than 800 of our 2,254 students are enrolled in one of our performing arts classes.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation in 2009 awarded a $70,000 grant to purchase sound and lighting equipment to enhance student learning. In 2013, Grossmont received the award for Exemplary Arts Program in Visual and Performing Arts. This award recognizes schools that, in addition to high academic achievement indicated by their distinguished school qualifications, have committed time and resources to standards-based arts education programs that strengthen students’ creativity and encourage their personal interests. This award is directly related to the California Department of Education’s involvement in CREATE CA, a statewide coalition of organizations working to further arts education in California.

The Grossmont High School performing arts classes continue to attract intense student interest because the programs are meaningful and offer students great learning experiences.

Unfortunately, the quality of the learning is constrained by the current performing space, a 70-year-old building called the Old Gym, that does not support the needs of a contemporary performing arts program. The current performing space, the Old Gym, has an extremely old and outdated lighting system and very poor seating for audiences.

Further, the conditions of existing classrooms are deteriorating due to age and use. The dance room has no air conditioning, and the floor is cement, which is not an appropriate dancing surface. The drama room has poor ventilation and is too small for adequate seating during performances for a program of this size. The choir room does not have adequate electrical outlets to power musical instruments and not enough room to store risers and other equipment for performances.

Happily, there is a plan to construct a new Events Center on the Grossmont campus. Funded by the voter-approved Proposition U, the new complex will ensure our students learn in modernized classrooms that meet the standards for today’s top-notched programs.

A lawsuit filed by a small group of residents in Alpine has blocked this project from breaking ground and many others throughout the district, so it is my hope that the school district prevails in its defense of our students and schools.

The planned Events Center at Grossmont is to include a 300-seat theater for all performing arts shows, a black box classroom for drama, an area to build sets and store equipment, new classrooms for dance, choir and piano, and dressing rooms.

Educators will tell you high school departments should be housed in the same buildings. It increases collaboration between teachers and student achievement. But the performing arts classrooms are spread out across the school, and our facilities will be the last to be upgraded.

Performing arts — theater, dance and music — provides extraordinary enrichment to the high school experience. But a proper education experience requires a setting that is appropriate, and suited to the robust curriculum that modern performing arts programs demand.

At Grossmont, our performing arts students deserve to be taught in modernized classrooms that offer state-of-the-art performance experiences to increase the level of academic engagement and achievement.

—Jiacoletti has been a dance teacher for 16 years at Grossmont High School and was chair of the school’s performing arts department for 12 years.

3 Comments

  1. Bill Weaver says:

    This opinion is politics at its worst . I do not know Marta Jiacoletti, and she doesn’t know what the money from a Prop 39, 55% voter approval passes, bond is allowed to be legally used for. The “Events Center” at Grossmont High School, although a wonderful and needed project. This is an illegal Project under both Prop H, (2004 – $274 Million), or Prop U (2008- $417 Million). Why? this project was listed under the Long Range Facilities Master Plan) the basis of these bonds, as a “Multi-Purpose Facility, and budgeted at a dollar amount far less than the expanded illegally, scope and scale of a PAC, Performing Arts Center, re-designated, “The Events Center.” This is ls lip stick on a pig, a cover up of the illegal use of Prop U, (Prop 39 enabled) Bond funds.

    To say this in her opinion shows the misinformation the GUHSD is disseminating out of its Media, and Public Relation Department;

    “Happily, there is a plan to construct a new Events Center on the Grossmont campus. Funded by the voter-approved Proposition U, the new complex will ensure our students learn in modernized classrooms that meet the standards for today’s top-notched programs.

    A lawsuit filed by a small group of residents in Alpine has blocked this project from breaking ground and many others throughout the district, so it is my hope that the school district prevails in its defense of our students and schools.”

    Wrong!

    This is political (GUHSD) propaganda, it is not the truth. On April 8th, the San Diego/CA Superior Court will hear a lawsuit that will set the record straight. the GUHSD cannot divert funds legally specified in the bond project list for Alpine, to build a non-listed, grandiose Events Center at Grossmont HS. This was not listed on the original bond project list approved by the voters. This is not a legal bond project at Grossmont High School.

    Sorry, your facts are incorrect. You’ve been misinformed by the GUHSD Administration, and Governing Board Majority, and political spin masters in the GUHSD bond program misspending cover-up…. Stay tuned, the local news media will be on top of this court case. The truth will be reported. This will set precedent for all schools in California, on the legal vs. illegal use of Prop 39 enabled bond funds.

  2. Tim Arends says:

    While I support any and all Performing Arts spaces for all schools, especially being a product of the great programs at Valhalla (class of 1984, both drama and band), the facts Ms Jiacoletti present are just wrong. A Performing Arts Center for Grossmont High, a worthy endeavor, was NOT listed as a project on the bonds for either Prop H or Prop U. The Alpine High School was listed. I currently work for a company that is a government contractor. We have a contract with the government to provide certain services… how we provide those services are outlined as part of our contract. While there are things we feel we can do to improve our services, we have to get permission from the stakeholders (the government) before we can implement any changes. The same holds true for the Bond issues of Props H & U… they were a contract with the stakeholders (the taxpayers) of the work to accomplish… ANY deviation would need another approval. The Grossmont Union High School District Board wants to be able to make changes to the Bonds without voter approval. This is a gross abuse of their authority. The Alpine community has been screwed over by the Grossmont District for more than 30 years. It’s about time the Alpine community has said “enough is enough” and “it’s time you deliver what you promised.”

  3. Priscilla Schreiber says:

    How is it that in all the planning that went into two updated (LRMFP) Long Range Master Facilities Plans respectfully associated with each Board Bond Resoultion calling for two Bonds to be placed on the ballot, somehow didn’t take these arts program facilities into account?
    But they did. There were many facility needs on every campus throughout the District and a need to finally build a high school in Alpine.
    This need was addressed in Prop U in 2008, and (MPF’s)Multi-Purpose Facilities was what was agreed to by all campuses. Budgets were developed per site’s desire and Districtwide needs. After the Bond passed, came all the “gimme” changes now that the voters approved the issuance of Bonds everyone thought they could go after larger scopes and specs and campus project teams wanted the best for their campus too. So, one deviation and then all campuses would impose the “me too” attitude. This has busted the program.
    Do people think that when the LRMFP was designed it didn’t have a purpose? It was a plan to get as much done as possible with taxpayer dollars. They were not short-sighted in their planning. Read what the voters approved. For Grossmont that campus agreed to a $5M budget to convert the 70 year old gym not a $15M events center. This plan would have helped to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog as well. This is why the essential needs across the District are not being met, not because of Alpine, as much as everyone wants to blame it on them. These deviations from what was told and approved by the voters is illegal and the court of appeals has supported that opinion.

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