School board passes on $900,000 track resurfacing project in special meeting

Taylor Scott, Managing Editor

The River Valley School District Board of Education met April 19 for a special meeting in which federal emergency relief funds and a track resurfacing project were discussed. All eight board members were present, with one vacancy still remaining for Area 4 in the Village of Lone Rock.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds

The board first heard from district Business Manager Brian Krey, who said the district is expected to receive $570,000 in round two Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

Krey shared that based on the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s estimate of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s proposal, the district is set to receive just over $1.2 million in round three of the ESSER funding, with a total near $1.8 million. The proposal is still awaiting state approval.

“Our discussion focused on utilizing that money for items currently in our budget and what impact that would have on future deficits,” said Krey, of the district Budget Committee’s discussion regarding the funds. “Hopefully the state will make some decisions on round three and solidify those and that way we have a firm number moving forward.”

Track resurfacing project

In February the board received their first solid numbers regarding a proposed Athletics Redevelopment Plan that would resurface and upgrade the track along with the surrounding athletic complex. The project was estimated to cost $1,239,000 and would have covered earthwork/demolition, utilities for stormwater management and drainage, hard surface work on the grandstand plaza, basework and resurfacing of the track itself, pole vault and long/triple jump site renewal, electrical, and football field reconstruction.

At the time, the board opted to solicit bids regarding the project and the results were brought to the board meeting from the Budget Committee.

“We had lengthy discussion on the received bids for the track resurfacing project. At this time we have no recommendations,” said John Bettinger, Budget Committee chair. “Primarily I think it was the total cost of the project and the timing.”

Bettinger shared that the lone bid came in around $900,000, while Krey stated that $500,000 was available in the budget and anything over would have to be funded from elsewhere, such as Fund 49 — which Krey said stands at $970,000 after the recent sale of the school forest.

“So that would be a way to fund that,” said Krey, of Fund 49.

Krey stated the track and field team wasn’t planning on hosting any meets this school year due to the condition of the track, but is still practicing on it.

Board member Fred Iausly shared concerns that the project was being put off another year and that needed changes wouldn’t be done in time for football in the fall.

“So we realize as a committee we bring no recommendation to the board,” said Bettinger in response. “It doesn’t mean that this issue can’t be discussed at full board or the board can’t make a decision that’s different than the budget committee discussed.”

“Cost is the biggest factor,” said Kathy Jennings, board president. “I don’t see it going down in cost the further we put it off.”

Board member Jeff Maier and Krey discussed the initial idea to use the football field as a dual purpose football and soccer field, but that the respective coaches have cooled to the idea recently.

That really kind of sets you back and I don’t think it’s wise to get into a project people are gonna complain about,” said Maier, who expressed he had hoped to move forward with the project. “I think maybe we need to talk to our folks about some fundraising ideas.”

Board member Sara Young also expressed consternation at the process.

“I know it’s kind of a bummer to be this far in the process and have gotten bids and feeling like ‘okay we’re full steam ahead’ but even there you know if we have new information or feel like this may not be as strategically right for us as we thought it’s a lot of money to spend to not go ahead and take the time to do it,” said Young.

Discussion ensued regarding different sports and coaches working together to utilize the field fairly.

“My feeling is that stadium complex is a district asset and it shouldn’t be just kind of viewed as just one sport gets to have access to that and it’s their quote-unquote field or pitch or whatever it is,” stated Iausly. “If we want to try to provide the best facility we can for our students we should be able to figure that out and the coaches need to just kind of work together on that.”

Bettinger shared his concerns that the field would have to handle too many games under the current structure of the plan proposed. Ultimately the board declined to take action on the project.

“Maybe if we take a pause and keep this project in mind and maybe provide contractors a little more time, I think this was kind of short notice for them,” said Maier. “I’m really surprised we only got one bid so maybe the next go around would be better.”

School board meetings can be found on the River Valley School District YouTube page.