This year’s historical rainfall in California has created a myriad of problems, and one is affecting the Firebaugh/Las Deltas Unified School District.

An ambitious project to refurbish Firebaugh High School’s football stadium has seen many delays due to the bad weather. It will have some effect on graduation ceremonies, scheduled for early June.

The project calls for an all-weather track to be installed. Also, the grass on the football field will be removed, a new sprinkler system installed, and new, natural grass laid down. The total cost of the project was pegged at $3.8 million. Construction started at the end of the last football season, causing the Eagle boys and girls soccer teams to play their games at Firebaugh Middle School.

Then the rain came.

School District Superintendent Roy Mendiola said the inclement weather caused many delays, forcing workers to get in as much work as possible between storms.

“There were times when the rain caused the project to come to a complete stop,” he explained. 

He added that other delays occurred with the state besides the rain, as is expected on public projects such as this.

“Getting approval from the Division of State Architects caused another delay,” Mendiola explained. “You have to undergo inspections; the fire marshal has to come out, and soil samples must be taken. This just adds to the delay. But it’s been the weather more than anything.”

With graduation on the horizon and the stadium torn up, the school district has been meeting with students and parents to inform them how the ceremonies will occur.

“We have talked with the parents and students, and they are adamant that they want the graduation in the stadium,” Mendiola explained.

So the three graduations will take place at the stadium, starting with El Puente High School on May 30. Firebaugh Middle School graduates will be in the stadium the following evening, and it will end on June 1st with Firebaugh High’s Class of 2023 marching in for their diplomas.

Mendiola added that instead of the parents and family members meeting the graduates after the ceremony on the football field to congratulate them, they would be moved to the nearby baseball diamond to keep people off the football field.

And then, following graduation, the work will re-commence with hopefully no more delays.

The big question is whether the new field will be ready in time for high school football? The season is slated to start on Friday, August 18, when Firebaugh will travel to Reedley High. For the next two weeks, they are scheduled to host Fowler on August 25 and Caruthers on September 1. Then there will be two more road games at Templeton (September 8th) and Immanuel-Reedley (September 15th). That will be followed by the ‘Bye’ week and the first West Sierra League game when the Eagles will host Coalinga.

Right now, the big question is the Fowler and Caruthers games. Mendiola said that it is likely that those games will be switched in case the field isn’t ready.

David Borboa