Discussions regarding a soccer field at Mexico Middle School continued last week at a work session of the Mexico School District No. 59 Board of Education.
The board approved a bid in February for $42,500 to fix the soccer field at the middle school, but work on the field was put on hold so the district could explore other options. Those options were discussed last month and motions were passed to seek bids on either soccer field modifications or creating brand new fields either at the middle or high school. Even if the board decides not to move forward with modifications, the repair work would still be done to the field.
To get a sense of the scope of work and associated costs with field lighting, Superintendent Zach Templeton attended a vendor fair during the Missouri Association of School Administrators and Missouri School Public Relations Association conference. The largest likely expense for the field is lighting, he said.
"Obviously, they weren't quoting me a price because it depends on where they have to go to access power and how many candle lumens," Templeton said.
The vendor indicated $250,000 would be about the maximum end of the scale for installing and/or moving field lighting, he said. The district has $472,466.50 in bond funds remaining after Hawthorne Elementary School heating, Hart Career Center heating and Mexico Middle School interior doors are installed.
"This project is something we could spend that money on," Templeton said. "We say the term bid, most people are going to need specifications."
The original motions called for general information on costs associated with track and field modifications at the middle school or the creation of a new field at the middle school. A second motion wanted to look at costs for creating a new field at the high school. "They can give an estimate is the best we can hope for without some true plans or specifics," Templeton said.
The option of using an artificial turf also was brought up at past board meetings, and Templeton looked into those options as well. Soccer seasons aren't greatly affected by weather and would less likely need an artificial turf when compared to other sports like baseball. Many schools are going toward a multipurpose field format, Templeton said from information he'd learned at the vendor fair, so a baseball field may also use its outfield area as a soccer field with an artificial turf.
"I kind of came home excited about that potential, but I'm not sure we could fit a soccer field inside our baseball facility, but it's something to think about it," Templeton said.
To completely outfit a baseball field with artificial turf would cost approximately $1 million, while a football field is around $800,000, he said. Having an infield as artificial and the outfield as grass would cut down on costs, he added.
Based on estimates Templeton received, the remaining bond funds would likely cover the costs of field modifications at the middle school, and he said he can work on getting closer estimate nailed down. The question, however, is should the remaining bond funds be used on field modifications or are there more pressing projects the board may explore, said Dustin Pascoe, board president. Bond funds have to be attached to projects by the end of the year.
"For instance, we could make some improvements inside of Emmons Hall," he said.
The district is not limited in the original bond's ballot language by what the district can do with the funds. Emmons Hall has received some cosmetic fixes here and there, but no major revamp.
Before the board makes any decision, the district should look into grants for the soccer field upgrades, in particular the lighting, said board member Brian Rowe. There are other things the board could spend its money from current bond funds said board member Scott Hobbs, and the modifications could be explored in a future bond issue. The field is going to get fixed no matter what due to the approval of the February bid.
“There is too the fact that we want to bring (the field) up to conference in terms of grade. So, we want fencing around it, we want more seating … that kind of stuff no matter where it fits,” Pascoe said.
Estimates would not be binding like they would be with a bid, Templeton said.
The list of priorities should be looked at first, said board member Kelli Teel. “(We need to) make sure there’s absolutely nothing else that we feel is pertinent to be fixed and built before we sink all of the rest of this money into the soccer field,” she said.
This doesn’t mean that the money won’t be used on the soccer field, but that the board should look at what may be more pressing first, member Nathan Birth said.
“You still have the availability of funds. You still have a $27 million budget. Carving out $100,000 to do something for capital projects, it doesn’t sink the budget in any way,” Templeton said.