By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
A decision on whether or not to proceed with bids to repair the track at Chase County Schools is expected to be made at the school board’s Dec. 14 meeting.
In use since the 2002 spring track season, the deteriorating condition of the facility has been before the board for several years.
A lengthy discussion on the track was held at the board’s Nov. 9 meeting with representatives from Baker & Associates, an architectural/engineering firm from Scottsbluff.
CCS has already spent about $16,000 with the firm on a repair design, but, in May, when learning of the potential costs, the board halted further action.
Supt. Matt Fisher said the money is now available for the project in the budget, estimated to cost from $420,000 to $514,000. The building fund or a combination of the building and depreciation funds would be used if the bids proceed and one is accepted.
Those price estimates, which raised a few eyebrows in May, haven’t changed, according to Barry Swanson of Baker & Associates.
The engineering/architectural firm had included about 25% in their estimates for “contingencies” and engineering costs, Swanson noted, because of the uncertainty of what type of base the track had been built on, among other things.
No base course at all was put in between the asphalt and dirt in the original construction. While there was a substantial amount of dirt brought in for the under-surface, Fisher said there was no base course.
Typically, about 24 inches of crushed rock is used as a base course, said Fisher, to aid drainage.
Swanson told board members there are quality issues with the current asphalt on the track. The level varies from lane to lane, and their soil tests in April confirmed the absence of a base course in the original construction. Pieces of asphalt have come loose.
Lack of the base course, coupled with the type of soil there, has slowed drainage underneath. Consequently, that has caused uneven movement of the track surface, Swanson said.
The bids would call for removing and milling down all of the current asphalt and replacing it with a new four-inch asphalt overlay, with a base course in between.
An uncertainty in the price tag will be the cost of asphalt. Swanson said asphalt came in $10 a square yard higher than they estimated for a project they just bid in Chadron.
“Asphalt will be a critical issue,” he said. “Costs can vary.”
That’s, in part, because asphalt contractors prefer “straight shot” jobs like roads versus curved tracks, Swanson said.
The plans also call for moving the long jump and triple jump runways, as well as the pole vault runway, from the interior of the track to outside of it, possibly to the west. They would be built of concrete instead of asphalt.
Fisher said the runways were put in before the grass was, so are lower than they should be. It is also congested where they are currently located, causing safety issues, he said.
A suggestion of relocating those runways north of the track instead of west was also made.
One thing the school has in its favor is the timing, Swanson said.
If the board decides in December to move ahead with the bid process, Swanson said they could finish the specs and get them out to contractors in January. Bids could then be opened for the February meeting, giving contractors enough notice to get the project on their summer schedules.
When it passed its 2010-11 budget, the board hoped to be able to fund this project, as well as repair another section of the school’s roof.
Fisher said the board placed money in the General Fund to pay for the section of roof to be done in the coming year, leaving the building and depreciation funds available for the track.
Other school board business
- Lobby renovations are being considered with a goal to enhance safety, provide a more welcoming atmosphere and help alleviate some of the traffic at the main office. Supt. Fisher said the topic came out of discussion at a school board breakfast. Most agreed the sign-in system now in place is lax at best, so by having a secretary stationed at a desk in the lobby area, it could enhance that security effort. That person could also aid parents by taking lunch money, as an example, alleviating the need to go all the way into the building to the office. Discussion also centered on staffing such a position. Originally, Supt. Fisher said they considered volunteers but, after further thought, decided it should be a staff person. Whether it will require an entire new position or some shuffling of duties has not been decided. Supt. Fisher said, based on the board’s discussion, there appears to be some interest in the changes; he and the other administrators will put some ideas together for consideration at the December meeting.
- A new superintendent evaluation process continues to be hammered out by the board. A board committee is developing an evaluation system for both the board and all staff. Board member Penny Strand asked whether an evaluation and comments will be considered if a staff member does not sign the form, and if all written comments would be able to be reviewed by all of the board, not just the evaluation committee. She felt all comments should be included, not just those selected by the committee for the rest of the board to review. Board member Sheila Stromberger supported all who evaluate should have to sign it, but was uncomfortable requiring the evaluation be done by staff. “We’ve had years when board members didn’t turn in their evaluation,” she said. Todd Burpo, board member, said for accuracy, all of the staff should do an evaluation. The committee will finalize the form, with the staff completing it in December and the board in January.
- Secretary Crystal Bopp submitted a letter of resignation effective Dec. 22, which the board accepted. Her duties included secretary to the activities director and the Infinite Campus system.
- Board members Tom Gaschler, Charley Colton and Dirk Haarberg, along with Supt. Fisher, are in Omaha this week at the state school board convention. American Education Week is also being observed this week.
- During the Christmas break, electricians will replace more of the lights in the building in the cafeteria area at an estimate of about $4,800. That will be followed by replacement of those in the Shorthorn and Longhorn gyms, possibly next summer. By changing out the current T-12 bulbs to T-8s, estimates are the cost will be repaid over a 5 to 7-year period because they operate more efficiently, Supt. Fisher said. Additionally, companies will be phasing out the T-12 bulbs eventually. All of the lights in the school office areas, board room and lobby have already been replaced.