Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

On the district’s ‘fast track’

May 11, 2006

We were both intrigued and amazed by the discussion concerning facilities in the school district at Monday night's School Board meeting. That the meeting ran until 2 a.m., not the best of times to be making decisions, is another subject.

The board heard another report from Jim Drew of Precision Sports Fields, the company that's currently renovated Baker University's Liston Stadium. Drew told the board building a practice track and reworking the soccer field north of Baldwin High School would cost $375,000. Throw in artificial turf instead of natural grass and the project costs $541,000.

This "limited time offer" is only good for as long as the company's equipment is in town. The time to act is now, both he and Supt. James White told the board.

Thankfully, School Board Member Scott Lauridsen said it best.

"The first decision that has to be done is the long-range facility plan," Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. "We need to figure out if we want to build a new high school or junior high, then figure out where we want this track."

We couldn't agree more.

But, the long-range facility plan didn't come up until later in the marathon meeting. That's when White told the board that the committee formed to address the plan had come up with building a new high school near Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, moving Baldwin Junior High School students to the present Baldwin High School and using BJHS for the district office and use by the Baldwin City Recreation Commission. In addition, the current district office -- which at one time was the high school -- would be razed and an addition made to Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, which is next to the present district office. Also, a performance auditorium, gymnasium, football and soccer fields would be built at the new high school site. And, you guessed it, a track.

Wow, that's a mouthful. That's also a wad of cash.

Before going over the deep end, everyone -- and that includes us -- needs to keep in mind that this is just a long-range plan that's been developed. It's not set in stone. It in no way shape or form was approved by the school board.

We're thankful for that, too.

But, what this whole discussion screamed is a need to know where we're headed. Exactly where. Obviously, we don't need to build a track at the soccer field and then turn around and build another one at a new high school.

Does the plan fit with the BCRC? Has it even been presented? What about the findings of a consultant hired by the the school district, city council and BCRC to determine the needs and feasibility of building for recreational needs? Were they considered or even known?

Yes, there are too many questions. That being said, we're not sure the long-range plan isn't a bad one -- if it sets well with the city and BCRC.

What we're also sure of is we don't need two tracks. An answer is needed soon on whether the practice track is to be built. We shouldn't make a rash decision based on that.

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