Highland News Leader

Future is unclear for Highland’s athletic training facilities project

A proposed athletics training facility at Highland High School’s future is up in the air as the district prepares to create a new strategic plan.
A proposed athletics training facility at Highland High School’s future is up in the air as the district prepares to create a new strategic plan.

A proposed athletic training facility at Highland High School is on hold while the district seeks community input on its new strategic plan.

Highland CUSD 5 is moving forward with designing a strategic plan that will help identify how high the $1 million to $1.8 million project ranks on the district’s priority list and plot out the district’s future.

“We’re getting ready to undergo a strategic planning process with the district and I think through that it will be clarified if that’s one of our top goals, our lower goals or not a goal,” Superintendent Mike Sutton said. “So we’re at the sit back and wait phase.”

The first sessions, which will take place Friday and Saturday, will be led by former Highland Superintendent Jim Burgett. His company, The Burgett Group, among a long list of other services, also facilitates strategic planning. Burgett is leading the sessions free of charge.

The planning process will use input from 32 community member’s to help shape and redefine the district’s mission and belief statements.

“We’ve got about 32 people who have accepted an invitation to participate in this,” Sutton said. “Those people will be coming in and looking at our mission and belief statements and attempting to identify strategies the district needs to focus on over the next several years.”

Sutton said half of the participants have ties to the district; that includes teachers, substitutes and other members of the district. The other half are members of the Highland community, people he said are important stakeholders in the district.

The planning sessions will start with a larger group and, eventually, be broken into smaller groups to make for better discussion. Sutton said this type of planning is the standard at most school districts.

The future of the building will be part of the conversations. Sutton said if the building isn’t a priority with the community, the project could be scrapped.

Financing the planned 9,600-square-foot building is one of the biggest roadblocks, Sutton said. In July it was estimated the building would cost around somewhere between $1 million and $1.8 million. However, that number has fluctuated over the design process.

Sutton said financing the project is one of the major reasons the district wants to take a step back from the project. He said determining its importance is paramount before the district moves forward.

“We identified where the best location would be and what the design would be but, obviously, finance is the major hurdle at this point,” Sutton said.

The strategic planning meetings are not open to the public and will run throughout Friday and Saturday.

Kavahn Mansouri: 618-239-2507, @KavahnMansouri