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Liberty Union – Thurston to ask voters for additional levy

BALTIMORE – Liberty Union – Thurston School Board members unanimously agreed Monday night to take the first step toward putting an additional 3.5 mill levy on the May 2 ballot.

Superintendent Todd Osborn was home recovering from surgery Monday night but provided more details to The Beacon Wednesday. Voters will be asked to approve the new levy for a five year term. If voters approve, the permanent improvement levy will bring in about $600,000 a year or $3 million over its initial life. It will cost school district property owners approximately $122 a year per $100,000 of property valuation.

The new revenue will be used for outside facility upgrades. Osborn listed the following projects:

• Track: It must replaced at the end of the 2017 season. Since project includes a new drainage system it is the right time to add two more lanes for a total of eight. Osborn said the district saved more than $300,000 when the 2008 bond issue that paid for the new schools was refinanced. That money will be used to rebuild and expand the track. The rest of the projects would be funded by the new levy.

• Competition Field: Osborn says it makes sense to upgrade the competition field when the track work is being done. The grass would be replaced with synthetic turf.

• Fieldhouse: A new field house would be built on the current practice football field to accommodate youth sports, after school practices and use by school district residents. Recommendations include a three-lane indoor track, two basketball courts, multiple volleyball courts, a cardiovascular workout room, home locker rooms and indoor hitting nets for baseball and softball. Osborn said nothing has been decided at this point and cost will determine its size and scope.

• Stadium Seating: Recommendation is to replace home bleachers with new 2,000 seat bleachers including reserved seating areas with individual seats with backs. A new press box is sought with multiple rooms and the ability to film games from the roof. Recommendations include seating for 1,000 visitors with a press box for visiting coaches.

• Softball Field: Upgrading existing field to a competition stadium with lights.

• Concession Stand: Build a new concession stand into the hill that includes coaches and officials locker room, training room, visitor locker rooms and rest rooms.

• Baseball Field: Upgrade the current field with seating around the backstop, lowered dugouts, lighting and bull pens.

• Green House: Recommendation is to rebuild on the same site adding doors to the classroom and for a front entrance.

• Bus Garage: Adding a building with three bays for mechanics, possibly incorporating diesel farm equipment maintenance for agriculture science classes.

• Land Lab: Add an observation pavilion and a cabin with running water and rest rooms.

• Security Cameras: Upgrade existing analog system in the school buildings and stadium to a digital web-based system.

Osborn said the district’s current small permanent improvement levy brings in about $250,000 a year should be sufficient to maintain the district’s buildings and grounds once the facilities are brought up to date.

He said the district wants to be an AAA school – Academics, Arts & Athletics. Osborn also noted that this year is the 100th anniversary of the merger of Baltimore and Basil schools.

In other business Monday night, board members recognized the co-students of the month senior Kenly French and sophomore Jaidon Billingsley. Madison Schaefer and Ethan Kaper were the co-students of the month for December.

John Walter MD was elected board president for 2017. Shawn Shook will be vice president. Board meetings will continue to be held at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at the district office.

The board’s annual work session is set for 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 28, in the district office. The next regular board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 13, in the district office.

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