Three sizeable and costly repair projects for the Cherokee School District were identified at a recent Team Management meeting during discussion of the District's Physical Plant and Equipment Levy funds for the 2012-2013 school year.
The repair projects that would be funded from the District's PPEL revenues are a new roof for the Roosevelt Elementary School's third and fourth grade wing, renovation of the field turf and watering system at George Hicks Field at Washington High School, and repairing and even possibly relocating the School/City tennis court complex on East Indian Street.
Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom reported to the District Board of Education that the Roosevelt Elementary roof was the top priority after being severely damaged a few weeks ago when high winds and driving rains struck the area on the heels of a blistering spring and summer heat wave that baked much of the Midwest.
Chalstrom said the roof repair job is estimated at $90,000 and it was decided that the roof needs to be repaired as soon as possible.
Acting on previous recommendations from Chalstrom, WHS Principal Neil Phipps, and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Dave Moore, the Board approved the field renovation at George Hicks Field for early spring 2013.
The plan to renovate the deteriorating George Hicks Field turf results from the field being victimized by this year's drastic drought condiditons, a faulty watering system, and the natural evolution of an unsightly, unhealthy blend of grasses creeping into the field turf.
The District had been undecided whether to tackle the growing, nettlesome problem yet this fall after the last home football game, or wait until spring - probably early April - to kill out and remove the existing grass turf, level the football field, re-seed it, and hope for the best that it rejuvenates with TLC in time for the 2013 football season.
The project would interfere with track and field events in the spring, but that decision was reached after the Distrct learned that the watering system under the field also is in disrepair, that it experiences pipe breaks often, and that am inferior quality of plastic piping was used when the system was initially installed about 22 years ago.
A preliminary proposal by an athletic field construction company was previously submitted to the District outlining the renovation process.
The process calls for stripping the turf grass to remove the top layer of unwanted grass and contaminants, along with removing surface irregularities in the process. Grading the playing surface will be done by fully automated, hydraulically actuated laser-guided equipment, with no soil removed or hauled away, all to be followed by seeding, sufficient watering, and proper nutritional applications.
The proposal carried an estimated cost of $24,700 and the project would take about five working days to complete.
The District's reponsibility would include relocating the long jump pits and runways, killing the existing turf grass, and providing plywood for equipment to cross the track.
The District's additional costs and the cost of a new watering system would be over and above the $24,700 estimate. Chalstrom reported that a preliminary estimate on replacing the watering system is $16,000, and relocating and developing a new long jump runway and pits are estimated at $15,000, for a total approaching $60,000.
The new watering system pipe would be a wider diameter with thicker walls for increased durability. The existing piping was installed 22 years ago when the District renovated George Hicks Field with the new all-weather track, bleachers, concessions, and toilets.
The Board also heard a report from Chalstrom about the eroding conditions of the Cherokee tennis court complex off East Indian Street in the Sam Doupe Complex.
Chalstrom and Moore said the courts have slid about two inches east and sunk about two inches since their construction due to underground erosion undermining the base. Fresh fill dirt failing to adhere and blend into original solid ground at the time of construction is also a major contributing factor.
The result is widening cracks and fissures on the six-court complex that repesents a danger to players and will only continue to worsen.
The courts are a 50-50 proposition between the City and School District and the two bodies are aware of and have been discussing the problems. "We're looking at considerable expense to fix them, resurface them, and resolve the problem," said Chalstrom, who added that both the District and City are faced with tight budgets and no extra funds to pay the high costs that would be involved.
The District and City have summoned the contractor who built the courts, and an engineer, to come to Cherokee to study the matter, according to Chalstrom.
Chalstrom also speculated that the School and City are also exploring the possibility of building a new tenis court complex elsewhere, away from the severe erosion problems that will only continue to plague the area due to its natural geography.
"All options are on the table," said Chalstrom. "We had a very good meeting with the City and I think we're all on the same page now. Finding the money is another matter we have to overcome."
Part of the District's due diligence will be contacting other school districts and colleges with tennis court complexes to discern the best available construction methods that promise maximum durability.
Since constructed, the current Cherokee courts serve the District and Lakes Conference teams, area schools' student/athletes whose school doesn't field a team, and attract casual players and their families from throughout the region to come to Cherokee.