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Sabino HS stadium lights left on for hours?

Posted at 7:34 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 14:34:59-05

Is anybody shutting off the lights? A northeast side neighborhood is upset about the football stadium lights staying lit at Sabino High School when the field is empty.

Some residents in Sabino Estates say they've tried to complain to the district dating back nearly two years, but their complaints are falling on deaf ears.

The district says it had no idea there was a problem until last week.

One resident describes it this way: It's blinding like several humvees with their lights flashing towards her.

Friday night lights glaring when the football team is on the field. Martha Macks doesn't have a gripe with that. It's only when the fields and stands are empty and the lights are left on.

"Every night. For years, hours and hours," said Macks.

And she shows us from her vantage point she can clearly see the entire grounds and anybody on the field. "Oh yeah, it's lit up so well you can see the field and there's nothing. No one in the bleachers. There's nothing on the field," she said.

We checked with TUSD. The district provided facility reports for this school year. It reveals the field lights are lit 3 to 4 times a week mostly from dusk to 8 or 9 pm.   

Macks doesn't agree. "They stay on and on for hours. We go to bed at 10:30 and they're still on,"

Macks believes the district is being negligent -- not only violating Pima County's stringent outdoor lighting codes, but wasting taxpayer dollars. "Other neighbors have contacted the school, but only until I spoke to a neighbor who told me to contact the Governing Board," said Macks.

Governing Board member Michael Hicks immediately responded. He says he's seen empty fields lit at other schools. "I think that's just the inefficiency of the policy we have in regard to making sure they're not only current, but turned on and turned off at a reasonable hour," said Hicks.

TUSD's 2014 Operational Efficiency Audit reveals TUSD has not developed adequate performance measures to effectively evaluate its facilities and maintenance operations.

Hicks is also concerned about an apparent communications gap. "I think is a severe problem that we're not having the respect and the dialogue with the community," said Hicks.

9OYS asked the district how the field lights are turned off and on. The district said most schools have timers controlled by staff, including Sabino High School.

Policy regulation ECF-R2 states that "Lights will be shut off unless definitely needed.  Lights not only consume electricity, but also give off heat which, in turn, places an additional load on the air-conditioning equipment and increases the use of electricity necessary to cool the room."  The district says the policy does not specifically mention field lights.

A district spokesperson said the principal has been working to address the issue with the onsite engineer and our facilities department.