At Monday evening's July meeting, the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn School Board discussed several projects to improve the school's facilities. Coach Al Vasher discussed with the board about the need to replace the lights on the baseball field as the arms holding the lights are wood and ready to collapse.
"When Mid American personnel came to check the lights out, it didn't take them long to note how unsafe they are as they could come down at any moment. I understand the lights have been there since the seventies. The poles are fine but the lights need to be replaced as soon as possible. Lonnie Boekhout (athletic director) is in the process of getting bids for replacing the lights. He is thinking it will cost around $40,000 to $50,000. But it definitely needs doing," said Vasher.
Another project being considered is the installation of a sprinkler system for both the baseball and football field.
Vasher explained, "With the present drought we're experiencing, it's a struggle to keep the grass green. Right now we can't use water from the city hydrant as it needs a replacement part to control the water. The part is on order and no one knows when it will be fixed. We have always been able to draw water there with a long hose with a water meter on it. If the grass dries up, the field becomes a problem for safety. Studies show that green grass provides a cushion that hard bare ground does not. Helmets don't make up for a lack of grass."
Supt. Jan Brandhorst added, "That is why we have been watering the practice field each afternoon. If we let it go until evening, the field wouldn't stay green. I know some folks may think it's ridiculous but this heat is unrelenting."
Vasher advised the board that they are getting estimates from the most reliable firms. Each has a slightly different pattern for laying in the sprinklers and most of the estimates are somewhere between $21,000 to $25,000. That estimate includes labor which Vasher believes would be donated from staff and parents to dig the holes for the sprinklers and allowing the company to install the lines. A half day for each field to be prepped and another day for the sprinklers and lines to be installed. The football field could be done prior to season or immediately after and the baseball field could be done this fall or early next spring.
"We have set some money aside in the baseball account and the local athletic booster group will also donate money. A combined total of $7,000 can be used toward this project. We can have some fund-raisers this school year to come up with more money. All of these firms are willing to carry us for a few months if need be," explained Vasher.
Board members appeared to be in favor of both of these projects. They will have bids on both projects before making a final decision.
"A sprinkler system has been a saver of our local golf course and these two sports are no different," said Jerry Moser, board member.
Brandhorst added, "We probably spend close to $200 on labor as it takes man hours to keep moving the hose sprinklers now. We would definitely have improved facilities."
The elementary playground is also in need of some pea gravel or some cushioning field to be installed under the swings and other climbing playground equipment. Insurance companies frown on the lack of a proper base for children who could fall during their playtime. The board is going to seek another bid to supplement the one already received.
Brandhorst also informed the board that the district needs to purchase a new bus. For many years now, the district purchases a bus every other year. Brandhorst was concerned about a couple of the aging buses. There is some talk about buses going "green" which could mean several changes for buses including seat belts. It might be possible to find a better buy if companies are anxious about eliminating older models. When the bids are ready, a special meeting will be called.
The last special project the board will be anxious to get bids on is to replace the present south and north entries to the high school. The south entry is of more concern. The upper level glass portion will be eliminated with other material. The board is looking for solid doors and framing of the whole area. Again, the board is looking for more than one bid before the final decision is reached.
Representatives from FEH, project architect for the building project, was on hand to make a visual presentation of building materials, cabinets and flooring to the board. FEH has coordinated the color scheme from room to room and at the same time has it coordinated with present facilities. After some discussion and one change, the board approved their selections.
Contracts were approved for: Lisa Habeman to teach high school math with the qualification of her being released from her present contract; cheerleading co-sponsor for Karla Prunty. The board was directed to check out the policy that a board member may be employed with the school system if the salary is under $2,500. As a cheerleading sponsor she will be paid $524.
In other business: parent handbooks were gone over; contract signed to work with Northwest Community College for a couple of classes; start preparation to vote on the Instructional support levy which will expire in 2008 and set priorities for the IASB to promote to the state legislature.