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Daily Pilot

School board funds stadiums for Mesa, CdM

By Hannah Fry

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

12:50 PM PDT, September 25, 2013

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The Newport-Mesa Unified School District board room erupted in applause and cheering after trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to fund the stadium projects at Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar high schools.

Mesa and CdM will each receive $7.4 million for their athletics facilities.

Estancia High School will receive $1 million toward the planning of a competitive aquatics center. Estancia is the only high school in Newport-Mesa without a competition pool.

"I have chills, I am so thrilled about this," board member Katrina Foley said. "It's been a long time coming."

After a contentious discussion Sept. 10, the board voted 4 to 3 to postpone discussion about the funds until Nov.1 and create an equity committee to assist the board in divvying up the remaining $15.8 million in one-time facilities money among the district's high schools.

The delay prompted Superintendent Frederick Navarro to present the compromise that was passed Tuesday night.

Trustees plan to vote on securing an architect to design the facilities before next year, Deputy Supt. Paul Reed said.

Reed outlined the costs for each of the proposed stadiums: $6.5 million to $12.5 million for CdM and $7.5 million to $11.5 million for Mesa. The estimates vary, depending on the amount of seating and whether the stadiums include things like concession stands and restrooms.

Before the final vote was taken, one member of the public urged trustees to put Estancia's money toward a theater, an idea that was presented at the previous board meeting by trustee Martha Fluor.

The board explained that Estancia's theater is one of a dozen projects specifically promised under Measure F, a $282-million bond initiative approved by voters in 2005. The stadiums were not guaranteed under Measure F, so they should be funded with the one-time money, according to the board.

The theater is expected to be funded in 2020, but that could happen sooner if property values continue to rise, generating additional taxes for the district.

[For the record, 8:40 a.m. Sept. 26: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Martha Fluor's last name.]