The Dunlap school district is getting ready to see plenty of upgrades.




Besides building a new elementary school, various athletic field upgrades are currently being planned for the high school.


The Dunlap school district is getting ready to see plenty of upgrades.

 

Besides building a new elementary school, various athletic field upgrades are currently being planned for the high school.

 

“The board gave consensus to move forward on the plan,” Superintendent Dr. Jay Marino said. “Formal action takes place when bidding out each piece of the project.”

 

Each piece will be bid on separately during March, April and May.

 

Before the plan was brought to the board, the upgrades had been looked at by parents, coaches, teachers, community members and athletic boosters.

 

“We had four separate meetings with all of those groups of people to provide input on the high school athletic facility renovation plan,” Marino said.

 

Currently, the plan is to complete the ring road around the high school, which will allow for school expansion in the future and will remove the south parking lot from the traffic flow.

 

A separate bus lane will also be added to improve access and safety.

 

Also being added to the ring road is a new parking area north of the high school. The lot will be able to fit 232 cars, and will relieve the congestion at the south lot.

 

This will also allow for another main entrance when the high school expands.

Field improvements

 

One of the biggest changes coming to the fields is making the football field a synthetic field, and not natural grass.

 

The reason for this change is for more groups to be able to use the field.

 

“When you have a football field, you basically reserve it for only football games,” Marino said. “With the size of our high school and continued growth, we have to have more teams be able to use the field to practice on.”

 

The plan is to have the band, soccer and football teams use it for practice, along with letting P.E. classes use it. Other teams will also be able to use it for running or other training, if wanted.

 

Football coach Brett Cazalet said he thinks it is great that multiple groups will be able to use the field.

 

“That’s what the surface is designed for,” Cazalet said. “Being that we are landlocked at what we can do at the high school, it solved a big problem for practice space for everyone to use.

 

“The fact that we can use it for P.E., football practice, band practice and other sports can use it to run if they want is a great thing for our district.”

 

If natural grass was used, the school estimates that $36,500 would be spent a year on upkeep.

 

With a synthetic field, no upkeep would be needed.

 

In addition, a synthetic field would be able to be used by more groups longer.

 

“It will depend on the specific type of field we purchase,” Marino said. “In general, you get 10-15 years out of a field before we need to replace it.”

 

Cazalet said that he is a big proponent of going synthetic.

 

“We had an opportunity to play on it at our playoff game at Lincoln West,” he said. “It provides a great flat surface for the kids to play on. It also opens up a lot of opportunities for our school to use the field for a variety of things.”

 

He added that the players are excited to check the field out next season.

 

“I think all of us are excited,” Cazalet said. “Anytime you can upgrade, no matter what it is, you always feel good about it. It’s going to impact a lot of kids for a long period of time.”

 

Cazalet said that the district is wanting to start work on the new field after graduation.

 

The work will take about eight weeks, meaning it will be ready for the start of the fall football season.

 

Also being upgraded are the baseball and softball field. Besides general improvements to the field, drainage on the fields will be improved, and a perimeter fence and concessions and restrooms will be added.

 

The tennis and soccer fields are the final areas being improved. The tennis courts are being relocated to the south parking lot where more courts can be added for better lighting. There will also be more room for spectators during matches.

 

A full size grass soccer field is also planned to be built in the valley. The field, which will have new lighting and bleachers, is the start of an expanded sports facility at the valley.

What’s left out

 

Even though quite a few field renovations will be going on, quite a few additional renovations were tabled until later.

 

“We considered a second soccer field, full concessions down at the valley and adding two extra ball fields at the valley,” Marino said.

 

Two other areas have been left out for now as well.

 

The gyms at both the middle school and high school were looked at, but are being deferred until later. However, according to Marino, this is more of a facility upgrade.

 

“As we look at upgrades to schools, those will be considered,” he said.

 

Perhaps the most contested tabled upgrade, though, was the new swimming facility.

 

“We proposed a competition size pool to host events,” Marino said. “It would have locker room space and proposed concessions.

 

“We also proposed community area space where groups could organize — kind of make it a multi-purpose complex with a potential flex space for exercise equipment.”

 

However, he said that the board didn’t go far into details, just enough to get a price tag of about $5 million for the new facility.

 

During the board’s consensus, parents and students both came out to support getting a new pool built. With the rest of the projects estimated to cost $5.3 million, the board decided to defer the project until later.

 

Some of the last updates to the pool include having it repainted and deepened for a diving area. Doing a smaller upgrade to the pool right now didn’t seem feasible, though, due to its age.

 

“The pool is basically coming up on 40 years old,” Marino said. “To invest anything major in it now doesn’t seem like a good investment if we can put a better facility there.”

 

The new pool will be looked at again when the elementary school and current field upgrades are well underway. At that time, Marino said the board may also have to look at possibly another school as the valley is “nearing capacity.”

 

Another area that will have to be looked at is the Equalized Assessed Evaluation. The EAV is how much money a district generates from its tax base.

 

Two to three years ago, Marino said the district was getting 10 to 11 percent from the tax base.

 

Last year, the school got 3.5, and this year the district is proposed to get 3.5 to 4 percent.

Going forward

 

Now that the projects have been given the go ahead by the board, the Farnsworth Group is in the process of updating their drawings of the new facilities.

 

After updating them and presenting them to the board in four to six weeks, the board will then start considering bids by companies for each project.

 

Marino said an exact time line for each project is unknown currently, as the bidders will propose a time line.

 

Still, even with the time line unknown, Marino expects most of the work to be done by the start of next school year.

 

“We have an aggressive time line, but are optimistic that a majority will be completed or nearly completed,” he said.

 

What will help move the process along is that all the work is being done in different areas, allowing them to be done at the same time.

 

“We can leave those tennis courts alone while we’re building the new ones by the middle school,” Marino said. “And, as the roadwork gets done and the new courts are going up, we can knock down the other ones because they’re in the two other work areas. So, you can actually have multiple projects converging because they’re all in their unique space.”