By Jim Tortolano
When voters in the Garden Grove Unified School District approved bond issues to modernize and improve facilities in the county’s third-largest public education system, they supported raising money not just for classrooms and libraries.
The GGUSD is planning a massive program of upgrading athletic facilities for the district’s seven comprehensive high schools. The construction and reconstruction began and continues under Measure A bonds (approved in 2008) and now Measure P funds (approved in 2016).
“We are in the process of prioritizing athletic upgrades for the district,” said Kelly McAmis, assistant superintendent of secondary education for the district. But just what those upgrades will mean is still a matter of study.
Already underway is the tear-down of the stadium at Garden Grove High School, where the facility which dates back to the mid-Fifties will be replaced by a new state-of-the-art complex, which will include new seating, press facilities, restrooms, concession stands and more.
The playing field and the track that surrounds will be modern synthetic surfaces. Completion date is planned to be August 2017, and it will open as Michael Monsoor Memorial Stadium. Monsoor was a 1999 GGHS graduate who – while serving as a Navy SEAL in Iraq in 2006 – gave his life by throwing himself on a grenade to save his companions. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration.
The construction district-wide has had an effect some campuses, but the athletic programs are going on without interruption. “We’re playing some games at alternate locations such as alternate secondary and intermediate schools,” said McAmis. The fact that six of the seven schools compete in the Garden Grove League makes the challenge easier, she said. Pacifica plays in the Empire League.
The other district stadium at Bolsa Grande High School is also set for a refresh. Although the timeline is not set, the facility at that school will also face the bulldozer and crane, and then rise as a brand-new venue.
“Bolsa Grande will get the exact same upgrades as Garden Grove High,” assured McAmis.
All sports facilities are under consideration for improvements or possible replacement, she said. The district is making a list and assigning priorities based on a variety of factors, including seismic safety and other issues.
Pacifica and La Quinta high schools, built around the same time with nearly identical designs in the mid-Sixties, share some of the same issues, but rumors that the gymnasiums at those schools are bound for demolition and replacement are premature and possibly incorrect, according to McAmis.
“All the gymnasiums in the district are under consideration and there have been no decisions made or timelines” established for modernization projects, she said.
Overall, the public response to the new and improved facilities has been good. “The community is very excited about what we’re doing,” she said.