Heights applying for grant to renovate track

Long an item on the Jackson Heights district’s list of goals and priorities, renovation of the Jackson Heights High School track took another step toward the starting line on Monday with the USD 335 Board of Education’s noting of an application for a grant to assist with the renovation project.

The district is applying to the Reiman Foundation of Milwaukee, Wis., for a matching grant in the amount of $330,700 for renovation of the track. The foundation, co-founded by Netawaka native Roberta Zwonitzer Reiman, also provided about $5 million for the construction and completion of the Hornet’s Nest Sports Center in Netawaka in 2013, it was reported.

The school’s asphalt track, built in the early 1970s as the school opened at the site of the former Atlas missile base, has more than 30 wide cracks in its surface, and beyond general maintenance, there have been no major improvements made to the track, it was reported. The condition of the track continues to worsen, and the school’s track and cross country teams are unable to practice on the track.

Cost of the renovations was most recently estimated by Beynon Sports Surfaces of Wichita at about $650,000, although that estimate was received more than a year ago. The board noted that whether that price would hold, or whether the school would receive the grant, is not guaranteed, with board member Melinda Wareham noting that the only guarantee in this instance is that “the price will continue to rise.”

According to the grant application, the track “poses a safety threat to children to the extent that the school is unable to host local and regional track meets and, thus, cannot effectively serve the physical education needs of its 369 students.”

Repairing the track would rectify this situation, board members noted, adding that it would also benefit other groups and organizations that might use the track, such as Relay for Life, which uses the track every summer.

In other business on Monday, Superintendent and Elementary Principal Adrianne Walsh updated the board on the district’s Honor Flight program, in which students and school leaders accompany World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit war-related monuments. She said the district currently has more than $8,700 in Honor Flight funds, adding that the price of a “full flight” would average between $12,000 and $15,000.

It is likely that a fund-raising event for the Honor Flight program could be held as soon as early February, Walsh told board members, adding the possibility of having former superintendent Paul Becker, who presided over the beginning of the program in 2008, as a guest speaker at that event. Becker, she said, had recently visited Normandy, France — the site of the D-Day landing in WWII — and may be available to share video footage of the visit.

The district’s Honor Flight “waiting list” includes four WWII veterans and two Korean War veterans, she said, adding that she hopes to get the district’s sixth Honor Flight ready for this coming spring. For more information on the Honor Flight program, call the district office at 364-2194.

Board members also:

* Approved the meeting’s agenda and consent agenda, the latter including the minutes of the board’s Nov. 10 meeting and monthly bills and activity account reports.

* Discussed the digitization of senior pictures and placement of an “alumni center” containing the pictures for viewing on a touchscreen computer. Walsh presented board members with an estimate of $3,618 for construction of the “alumni center.” Board members appeared favorable to the suggestion but wanted to know if other information, such as digitized yearbooks, could be placed at the center.

* Heard a report from Walsh on the search for a new financial auditor for the district, since the district’s auditor, David Bogner of Lecompton, has announced his retirement.

* Heard a report from Walsh on preliminary work on a district calendar for the 2015-16 school year, with more information to be presented to the board in January. She asked board members whether they would favor starting school earlier or later in August 2015 and requested input on breaks and parent-teacher conference dates.

* Heard a report from Walsh on activities at the elementary school, including a bake sale conducted by fifth and sixth-grade students that raised $750 for the Jackson County Christmas Bureau; letters to Santa Claus that younger students have composed for publication in an upcoming edition of The Holton Recorder; and upcoming concerts and other schcool events.

* Met in executive session for 25 minutes with Walsh present to discuss personnel matters and contract negotiations. No action resulted from the session.

* Heard suggestions from board members for future meetings.

* Adjourned the meeting at 8:05 p.m. All board members were present.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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