Summerville High says sports a priority

Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat /

Athletic facilities have emerged as Summerville High's first spending priority for money from the $8 million Measure H bond-sales measure, following a discussion of possible projects at a board meeting Wednesday.

Summerville Union High School District Superintendent John Keiter and board members identified new fields, a track, bleachers and lighting as the most important use for Measure H bond money, with technology upgrades as a close second.

Until Dec. 11, it seemed Summerville High wouldn't get the chance to make such decisions. The bond measure initially seemed to have failed, but a recount of ballots revealed that it had passed by two votes.

Keiter said the district plans to sell $4 million in bonds this spring. Other sales of $2 million each will take place in 2015 and 2017. Of the $8 million in total bond funds, about $6.1 million will be available for the "hard" construction costs of building structures.

The rest of the money will pay for "soft" costs: Architect design fees, consulting and other preparations for groundbreaking, such as soil testing.

Better athletic facilities have been on Summerville High's wish list for years, with the condition of fields a topic of conversation at several board meetings last year.

Trustee Carrie Ashe said she felt replacement of the steeply inclined bleachers on Thorsted Field was also important, since she has witnessed many people fall while climbing the stairs.

The board later voted the football field, soccer field and related improvements to the top of a list of more than 20 possible projects brainstormed late last year.

Board members also voiced a strong desire to get current technology into Summerville High classrooms.

"We want to someday be in the 21st century with all the other schools," said trustee Dennis Spisak.

Keiter said Summerville High has run into obstacles getting higher-speed Internet connections due to its rural location, but equipment is now being installed by Comcast.

Third priority for the bond funds on a list established by board members Wednesday were upgrades to the baseball field and bleachers.

Among the other top priorities were overhauling the cramped art classroom, providing a covered outdoor area on campus and installing video cameras in strategic locations to boost security.

Board members and administrators also outlined a broader philosophy for Measure H, with several stating that they wanted "transparency" at all stages of the process.

Keiter advised against haste. Summerville High Chief Business Official Tonya Midget, who witnessed funds from a previous bond measure fall short of goals, cautioned against spreading Measure H money too thin across the full list of ideas that was originally brainstormed.

"Maybe we don't want all of these things accomplished because we want first-class results," Midget said.

The specifics of each project must still be determined by a steering committee, which will communicate the desired features to Summerville High's architects.

Approval of the recommended plans rests with the Board of Education.

"The committee is only advisory," Keiter said. "It's not the final decision, 'our way or the highway' type of thing."

Steering committee members currently include Midget, Summerville High Principal David Johnstone, Director of Maintenance and Transportation Warren VanBolt, campus supervisor John Baldwin and Summerville High School Foundation member Mark Kraft.

Teachers are still deciding on a representative, and Keiter will choose a community participant at random from a pool of three volunteers who have stepped forward.

Adding another layer of input to the process, Summerville High is accepting applications for the independent citizens' bond oversight committee, which will monitor and advise the board on the use of Measure H funds.

Though priorities for bond money were established Wednesday, the projects may not be completed in that order, Keiter said. Timing will depend on practical concerns such as the location of each project on campus.

11886877
The Union Democrat
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