School board allows $4 million for new gym


The Eastern Sierra Unified School District board agreed last week to use most of $4 million on bond money for a gym in Benton, despite pleas by school district officials to share the wealth.
The gym, long promised to Benton residents, will likely use up all or most of the money that has been raised by a bond approved by the district’s residents previously School officials have argued that it would be better to use the money for outstanding capital improvement needs throughout the district, rather than to build a gym for a school that once had 100 students but now has only 38.
This is especially important, Superintendent Don Clark argued, in light of the uphill battle the district, and all California school districts are facing now due to serious state cuts to education.
He noted the district needs new roofing for leaky school roofs, two new boilers and many other critical items.
But the school board bowed to pressure from Benton and Chalfant residents, who argued that they had once been promised another school, in Chalfant and that was dropped. At least let them have a gym, they said.
The area’s county supervisor Hap Hazard attended last week’s board meeting and pushed for keeping the district’s promise to Benton.
“We discussed trust and the need to honor the commitment they had made as the school district,” he said. “It would be morally and ethically wrong to take the Tri-Valley citizens’ money just because you could. This proposal involved not just 30 to 40 kids and their families, but about 1,000 taxpayers.”