Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2005

School board eyes facilities

December 22, 2005

As the Baldwin Board of Education continues to look at improving the school district's facilities, the physical education department wanted to add its two cents at the Dec. 12 board meeting.

The school board has been and will continue to discuss the district's buildings and facilities before it proposes a possible bond issue.

"The intent is to go gather all of this data from all of the buildings and try to prioritize it to some degree," School Board Member Scott Lauridsen said of the possible bond issue. "Then we will determine how much of that do we want to add to this bond we are talking about."

Before the Dec. 12 meeting, several physical education teachers from around the district led the board members on a tour of the locker rooms in Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School.

"There were several of the board members that hadn't been in the high school and junior high locker room areas," Supt. James White said. "I think it was good for them to be able to go through those areas and see what we were talking about when we talked about physical education and athletics."

Lauridsen found the tour interesting.

"I think it was a great idea to get out there and look at the facilities and hear from the people that use them," Lauridsen said. "It was extremely helpful."

Early on during the meeting, BJHS teacher Ted Zuzzio expressed his concerns for many of the athletic facility problems to the board.

Some of the issues Zuzzio brought up included lack of cold water in the BJHS gym, size of locker rooms, lack of sprinklers at the BHS practice football and soccer fields, not enough room at Liston Stadium for field event practice during track, BHS locker rooms and the usage of fields by the P.E. classes.

"I think the concern from the teachers was supervision, because those locker rooms are downstairs," White said. "It would be better if there was something a little closer to the gymnasium."

The school board has been discussing the possibility of building a track for the teams to practice on this spring. The urgency for the track came when Baker University announced it will be finishing its improvements to Liston Stadium, which includes an eight-lane track and turf to the football field.

White knows the track is urgent, but he's not sure it's highest on the list of urgencies.

"It's certainly an important thing right now, whether it's the most important thing, that's probably still up for debate," White said. "Certainly, we all feel that we need to get something moving fairly quickly on a track, because we have track season coming up in a few months."

But the athletic facilities were not the only ones being discussed Dec. 12, as the school board also continued its discussion of long-range plans.

The plan includes a new junior high school when BHS and BJHS combine to reach 900 students.

White presented information that projected what Baldwin's enrollment would be for the next 10 years. The combined enrollment of BHS and BJHS would never reach 900 students, according to those figures.

The long-range plan includes a new junior high school being finished in 2012.

BJHS Principal Connie Wright expressed her concern about something that was brought to her attention several years ago by contractors looking at the BHS and BJHS campus.

"The land and the buildings were woefully inadequate," Wright said. "For the number of students we had, we were way behind."

Wright said she remembers being told if the company were to build a facility with the number of students the schools had, more land would be needed.

"They said there was not enough land for the population we had," Wright said. "They would never consider using a site of that size for that many people."

That information was based on the recommended acres of land for a junior high school and high school. Since then, BJHS has been expanded and the area north of BHS has been developed for the BHS soccer team.

White said he understands the problems and that is why the board has asked for a committee to investigate the district's facilities.

"I think that is one of the reasons that the board wanted to empower a district facilities committee to begin to look at what we have and to identify our needs for the future," White said. "Each of them has an idea of what our needs may be, but there are other people in the community that may have ideas that be considered as well."

The facilities committee was scheduled to meet Dec. 7-8, but snow postponed that. White said he hopes to have them come in early January.

After the committee has its chance to look at the district's facilities, the school board will then combine that information with other entities to see where it wants to go next.

"Then we will tie that together with the community facilities group and the consultant they have coming in to look at how we might combine facilities and meet the needs of the entire community," White said. "When we have all of those pieces together, I think we will have a better idea of what direction we want to head and what our needs are."

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