2009-04-11 / Schools

Board approves track for high school

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - It's been 20-some years in the making, but Millersport High School will have an all-weather track this summer.

Walnut Township School Board members unanimously approved two contracts Monday night:

• A $316,571 contract with Heiberger Paving of Canal Winchester for the eight lane allweather track;

• A $110,000 contract with Claypool Electric of Lancaster to remove six stadium light poles and replace with four taller poles with more lights.

Construction of the new track requires the visitors' bleachers and light poles to be pushed back. That prompted the decision to upgrade stadium lighting by removing the six existing poles and replacing them with four taller poles with more lights.

The estimated project cost was $550,000. The two contracts totalling $426,571, came in $123,429 below the estimate. Eight firms bid on the track and five competed for the lighting job.

"It is a good time to bid projects," Superintendent Ron Thornton told board members Monday night. "There won't be another time in our history to get this project for less dollars."

Most of the funds will come from the district's Certificate of Participation bonds issued last year. The bonds brought in just over $3 million that has been used to replace the roofs on both schools, upgrade both HVAC systems, pave the high school parking lots and make other facility improvements. The bonds won't be paying the entire cost. The district received a $25,000 grant from the Columbus Foundation that will go toward track construction. The Millersport Track Committee has raised $25- 30,000 which will also be used for construction. The Millersport Athletic Boosters have pledged $25-30,000 for equipment and construction.

A pre-construction meeting with the contractors was held Tuesday and work could begin as early as next week if weather cooperates. A public groundbreaking ceremony will be set once contractors are ready to start. Completion is expected by July 1.

The district will have enough COPs funds for Phase 3 upgrade projects and possibly a Phase 4. A committee will start evaluating Phase 3 projects this month.

The bonds will be repaid out of the district's general revenue fund, rather than from a specific bond issue levied on property owners.

In other business Monday night, Treasurer Kirt Grandy said the district's general fund is about $120,000 ahead of this time last year. The district's two-year audit was recently completed by the State Auditor's Office with no significant findings. "All in all, I think it was a good audit," Grandy reported.

"We really don't know where we are going to end up on state funding," Thornton said in his report. The State Legislature is still considering the governor's biennial budget proposal and legislators have raised a lot of questions about school funding in general and the amounts for rural schools in particular.

"We may have to hurry around come July and August," Thornton added.

High School Principal Charles Leedle said two students have recently been diagnosed with a MRSA staph infection. A health alert was sent to parents on Monday. MRSA infections are resistant to many antibiotics and can be very dangerous if left untreated. Both students are being treated.

MRSA is present in most public places, with cuts and scrapes particularly susceptible. After the diagnosis, the high school weight room was closed and completely sanitized. All students participating in extra-curricular activities have been ask not to store practice or rehearsal clothing at school overnight. Clothing should be laundered frequently and sharing of towels or athletic equipment should be avoided. Students are to have all wounds covered during school and at school activities.

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