Highland News Leader

Highland School Board: Waiting on track resurfacing ends up costing more money

In March, the Highland School Board unanimously rejected bids to resurface the high school and middle school tracks, because members thought all bids had come in too high.

On Monday, the School Board begrudgingly awarded the project to Christ Brothers Asphalt of Lebanon, which had the low bid of $367,832, about $20,000 higher than the price tag the board turned down in six months ago.

At the March board meeting, Superintendent Mike Sutton said that the bids for the track repairs came in much higher than expected and recommended that the Board reject all bids at that time. The board unanimously agreed to do so, in hopes of getting a better bid now, the off-peak time of year for construction.

The School Board on Monday considered rejecting the bids, again, and combining the tracks with the proposed tennis court renovation project being considered at the high school. But in the end, the board approved doing the tracks next spring, and giving a verbal commitment to re-asphalt the tennis courts.

Christ’s latest bid for the tracks was 3 percent higher due to an increase for a latex-based running track surface, Business Manager Tim Bair said.

The district will use health and life safety money to fund the track repairs.

At its Feb. 23 meeting, Bair informed the School Board that the Illinois State Board of Education had approved the life safety amendments to resurface the tracks.

Construction on the tracks is expected to start in April 2016.

Tennis Courts

Also, the board, by a 5-1 vote, verbally agreed to a tennis court renovation project at the high school.

Board member Robert Miller voted no, saying he needed more than a week to study the project.

Miller also questioned if the district had higher prioritized needs, citing the band uniforms as an example.

Under the terms of the verbal agreement, the district will spend up to 40 percent (or up to a maximum $200,000) to renovate the tennis courts. The rest would have to come from outside funds.

Last week, Brenda Plocher, a tennis parent/booster, presented the School Board with a proposal in regards to the courts. She is actively pursuing an additional $300,000 in donations and grants to cover the remaining costs of the project.

Under Plocher’s plan, six new tennis asphalt courts would be built at the high school, with lighting and seating. A pavilion would also be built at a later date.

The current high school tennis courts are 17 years old, and are no longer safe to play, according to Plocher.

That leaves the School Board with two options, board member David Raymond said.

“We can repair the tennis courts now or shut down the high school tennis program,” he said.

Plocher and Sutton, have held preliminary discussions with city officials about the proposed project, which would likely start next summer, if funding is secured.

The district’s portion of funding would come from its Operations and Maintenance Fund, Sutton said.

The Operations and Maintenance Fund had a $531,036 balance as of June 30, according to the district’s recently completed audit.