School Board ponders wood landing

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

The District 55 School Board asked Maintenance Supt. Ron Andrews to find out how much it would cost to rebuild the grandstand landing at Husky Field using wood.

The district has a funding gap of up to $60,000 to rebuild the landing from concrete based on figures provided to the board by Andrews Monday night.

In the past two years, the district has set aside $100,000 to repair the grandstands, Athletic Director Dave Goetz said. Of that total, approximately $15,000 has been spent on short-term repairs to get the grandstands through this year and expanding the press box to provide private spaces for coaches.

The cost of replacing the landing with concrete is about $137,000, according to estimates Andrews received from contractors. That would also set the grandstands one foot back from the outside lane on the track, allowing the district to use that lane.

For an additional $7,000, the district could build cubicles into the landing to store track hurdles, and for another $4,200 the district could replace the seating boards for a total cost of $148,200 if everything is done.

The district’s architect has recommended replacing the landing, Supt. Larry Horton said. The structural beams under the landing all need replacement. Because of dry rot, the district has replaced some beams already.

Their exposure to the weather causes the dry rot, which is why he recommends a concrete landing, Andrews said. The seating hasn’t been exposed to the weather and is structurally sound.

“We’ve never been given another option,” said Chanz Keeney, a board member. The additional money required is the price of a teacher.

The grandstands have stood up well, he said. Money is tight, and he hates to go over budget on the project.

“I’m somewhat with Chanz on the money,” said Jason Redick, a board member. “The future doesn’t look real bright. It’s tough to know where to come down on this because of that. If we spend this money and have to turn around and cut teachers, we’ve failed the community. At the same time, we have a big investment that needs to be taken care of.”

“It is hard to decide,” Horton said. “Do you solve short-term problems or long-term problems? Often you have to put out money for the long-term fix even if money is tight.”

Keeney asked what the costs would be like if the district used wood instead of concrete, while board member Ken Roberts said he would want to see a comparison of the cost over time in terms of ongoing maintenance.

Andrews did not have an answer at the meeting, and Horton asked him to return to the board next month with estimates.

Elsewhere among the district’s athletic facilities, the board decided to place new tennis courts in the area between the Bus Barn and the varsity baseball field on 18th Avenue.

The orientation of the court depends on what the professional designers suggest, Horton said.

If it is developed north-south along 18th Avenue, it will be within 50 feet of the baseball field.

That could infringe on proposals to expand the baseball field to allow room for another soccer field, which would be used by a variety of teams in the community, Goetz said.

The area just south of the baseball field fence also is slated to be used for Forestry Club competitions.

With the removal of the old tennis courts, Goetz filled in the board on plans to rearrange the athletic fields south of the high school. The proposal would designate the main soccer field to run north-south along the west side of 18th Avenue. Moving westward would be another soccer field and then a football practice field, both running north-south.

The junior varsity softball field would move to the northwest corner of the area, near the main gym parking lot. The varsity softball field would move to the northeast corner, by 18th Avenue across the street from the varsity baseball field.

The junior varsity baseball field would be relocated to the south edge of the fields to the approximate location of the beer gardens at the Oregon Jamboree, Goetz said. He plans to meet with Sweet Home Economic Development Group and Jamboree representatives to work out any potential impacts on their August festival. The city has given permission to let the field encroach on the city property there.

The rearrangement will cost money, Goetz said, but he didn’t know how much. He planned to return to the board with that information later.

In other business, the board:

– Reviewed the 2007-08 school report cards released on Oct. 8.

In those report cards, all district schools were rated satisfactory except Oak Heights, which received a rating of strong.

The Charter School was not rated because it has only existed for two years and the data do not exist yet to rate the school, said Doug Miner, People Involved in Education president.

All schools were rates satisfactory in academic achievement except Oak Heights and the Junior High, which were rated strong. The Charter School also was rated satisfactory.

All schools, including the Charter School, were rates strong in attendance except the High School and Junior High, which were rated satisfactory.

On improvement, all schools “stayed about the same” except Crawfordsville, which declined and the Charter School, which was not rated.

All schools, including the Charter School, were rated exceptional in school characteristics, which measures the percentage of students taking state assessment tests.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act standards, the High School and Hawthorne failed to make adequate yearly progress.

The district is permitted to give simplified tests to 1 percent of its students, those on individualized education plans, Curriculum Director Jan Sharp said. The district initially reported nine too many students taking the simplified test. The district changed its reported results on nine tests at Hawthorne.

“It’s sort of a shell game,” she said. “We didn’t play it very well this year.”

– The Sweet Home Charter School provided its annual report to the School Board.

In it, Charter School officials identified five areas where the school did not meet its goal of scoring as well as or better than the official comparison school, Hawthorne. Those included fourth-grade reading, fifth-grade reading, kindergarten math, first-grade math and fifth-grade math.

The school outlined a plan to allocate higher percentages of time to comprehension exercises, more one-on-one time with students, reevaluation of curriculum, aligning instruction to meet the goals and working on test-taking skills.

Miner and Horton both approved of the working relationship between the Charter School and District 55.

– Decided not to pass resolutions opposing ballot measures increasing federal income tax deductibility (Measure 59), statewide merit pay for teachers (Measure 60) or the statewide prohibition on teaching students in any other language than English for more than two years (Measure 58).

The board did pass a resolution supporting the repeal of the double majority requirement for tax measures (Measure 56). The requirement requires a 50-percent turnout of voters plus a majority of them voting yes before a tax election is considered valid. In even-numbered years, general elections require only a simple majority to pass a tax measure.

The Oregon School Boards Association submitted a request to the board to pass resolutions supporting its position on the measures.