There won’t be any textbooks used in this building, and it’s likely no science experiments or historical debates will take place within its walls. Numbers, however, will play a key role as Pointer students do something else: sweat.
The school’s new weight room, a key component in interscholastic sports success, but also in everyday physical education classes, is quickly taking shape in the southwest corner of Pete Ross Stadium west of the bleachers.
But, as The Beatles sang, the project has followed “(A) Long and Winding Road” since its proposal four years ago. The road included a funding grant, disputes among parents, school district demands and concessions — plus unforseen construction issues.
When construction finally began several months ago, several problems arose, including the discovery of massive concrete footings from a long-ago structure, that drove the cost above original estimates, said John Murphy, PLHS athletic director.
The project’s fortunes took a big positive turn recently when the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) agreed to allow use of PLHS’s discretionary Proposition S bond money to pay for increased costs above those previously allocated under the ballot measure.
With the building’s costs covered, the original seed money for the project, a grant from the Jimmy Johnson (of NASCAR fame) Foundation two years ago, will now be used to equip the building with top-quality weight training and workout equipment.
Head football coach Mike Hastings has been poring over brochures and catalogs while he and Murphy meet with representatives of various suppliers to select the best components and stretch their budget to benefit the students.
After opening in the coming months, school officials expect the weight room to provide a modern, comfortable facility for many years that will help students improve their physiques and gain strength.
The school’s former weight room was housed in two portable classrooms at the same location, but the dilapidated buildings were condemned by inspectors and ordered demolished.
When officials at PLHS were surveyed for Proposition S site needs, the weight room was listed and included on the planned improvements at the school. However, it was not scheduled to be built until 2014.
In 2009, parent Lisa Tumbiolo applied to the Jimmy Johnson Foundation for funding that is given out annually for worthwhile projects at local schools. Johnson’s “Lowe’s Toolbox for Education” group, founded in 2006, donates to San Diego County schools. Johnson grew up in El Cajon.
The PLHS application, which included a video produced by then-school ASB President Josh Morse, was personally reviewed by Johnson. The foundation approved a grant of $90,000 to help replace the facilities and invited PLHS leaders and parents to appear with Johnson at a “Homecoming Rally” at the Lowe’s store in El Cajon.
Originally it was believed a basic weight room could be built by parents for $185,000, but conflicts among them stalled the project.
Then, SDUSD officials listed requirements for the facility that drove costs up.
The final project’s configuration does not include air conditioning and water fountains that were part of the hoped-for features.
Like any project, recent changes had to be made to ensure enough electrical outlets were available for current exercise equipment that feature digital readouts.
The new building will also signal the riddance of a school eyesore where a temporary outdoor training area was set up on the school’s tennis courts as old weight machines deteriorated and rusted while being exposed to the elements.