Funding source chosen for stadium lights at high schools

Stadium Ligths
Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos High School football team plays under temporary stadium lights. The school district plans to fund the installation of permanent field lights.

As the yearslong push for stadium lights at Mountain View and Los Altos high schools comes closer to completion, the project now has a funding source.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved paying for the stadium lights and accompanying new public address systems out of its building fund at a March 30 meeting.

That fund dates back to the sale of the old Mountain View High School on Castro Street decades ago. Over the years, the fund has been used multiple times and also replenished, said Mike Mathiesen, associate superintendent of business services.

There is approximately $3.7 million in the fund, and the cost of the stadium lights and PA systems is estimated to total $2 million.

Installing stadium lights has long been debated, with some of those living in the neighborhoods surrounding the high schools raising concerns about the potential disruption the lights and sound systems could cause. Administrators and trustees worked with neighbors to create guidelines for the use of the lights and sound systems.

The district is now in the midst of the environmental review process and hopes to have the systems installed by the end of the year. However, the timeline depends on how long the approvals process takes, as well as the time it takes to get the equipment delivered.

Over the years, various proposals have been discussed to fund the project. One option was to have the sports boosters foot at least part of the bill. Trustee Phil Faillace said initially there were “high hopes” for fundraising from the boosters or other groups, potentially including those living near the school.

“I think now with the pandemic, that hope is, at least for the immediate future, dashed,” he said. “So, I support the idea of using the building fund.”

However, Faillace said he wanted to see if the groups can help replenish the building fund once things return to normal. Trustee Debbie Torok raised the possibility of the boosters funding other improvements to the stadiums or field areas.

Bob Crissman, co-president of Los Altos High’s athletic boosters, said he supported using the building fund to pay for the project. Typically, he noted, the boosters raise money in approximately $15,000 to $20,000 increments, and raising a larger amount of money would take more time.

“It tends to be in smaller chunks like that, so we’re not talking hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Crissman said. “If we needed to do something like that, it would take a longer term and we’d have to take things to a very different level, and we’d want to work with you to do that.”

Torok said she understood where Crissman was coming from, and Trustee Fiona Walter added that though the boosters may help fund supplemental projects, it made sense for the district to cover the core of the project.

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