Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Our April 1 Board Meeting: Athletic Field Improvements

Tuesday night the Board of Education meeting had two primary issues to deal with.

First, a study of the athletic fields was discussed in a public forum. A number of options were presented both cost wise and by configuration. The crux of the matter is that our track is wholly unusable and the adjacent fields are marginal. There is no source of water for maintaining the fields near the school so importing the water is the only solution with that choice. The comprehensive study walked through most of the issues.

What caught my attention was the water and maintenance issue that would result if we did not opt for the synthetic fields. The cost of water and person power over time will become back-breaking given what we know about the trajectory of existing costs.

I advocated the community doing as comprehensive a rebuild of the athletic infrastructure as possible. The $8M price tag was quite reasonable in my limited research of what other school districts have paid in recent years ($5+M for more limited operations).

Let me explain my position.

First the athletic facilities are humiliatingly out of spec with just about any other high school in the state and this is not a matter of status envy. Our facilities have simply exhausted their usable life cycle. Inconvenient as it is, it is time to invest in reconstructing these facilities for the next 20 years or so.

IMO, the community is best served with the option that includes dual synthetic fields that accommodate the additional FFA open space. this is one of the more expensive options due to adjusting some topography issues.

I believe that given the current national and state economic climate we would be smart to take advantage of credit terms that will ensure the money borrowed is most efficiently dedicated to infrastructure rather than interest payments.

Secondly, the long term savings in water and maintenance at EO will be significant over time and well worth the initial investment.

Finally, we should attempt to keep the work force as local as possible when it comes to construction activity. Let's leverage the local spending by keeping local construction workers gainfully employed during this economic slowdown.

I'll talk about the rest of the budget in another post.

1 comment:

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