School board mulls athletic facility upgrades

Board also hears some early, unofficial budget numbers for FY 2025


FORT MADISON – A discussion around the use of tax dollars on athletic facilities in the next year could result in a refurbished gym floor and some enhancements to high school locker rooms and tennis courts.
The Fort Madison Community School District held a workshop Wednesday to hear additional ideas from Nic Chiri, the district’s Director of Maintenance and Jeff Lamb, the high school activities director.
Chiri said he had about $350,000 in the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy fund and brought the board additional information regarding his capital projects improvement plan in November.
Chiri said he first started looking at the district’s tennis courts and said options ranged from $360,000 to $215,000. The budget numbers include new fencing and completely deconstructing the six current courts. The difference in price is the number of new courts that would be built from all six to just one and then replacing the green space.
Chiri said he could take down an end of fence, replace the courts, and then put the fence back up unless the bids were favorable, but he said replacing the fencing is about $50,000.
However, the board moved the conversation away from the tennis courts due to the reduced number of students the improvements would impact.
Chiri said he and Lamb also met with Carl A. Nelson and walked the campus with construction officials and looked at other ways the funding could be spent.
“We met with them and walked around the campus and looked at different things we could impact. The weight room with the $350,000 would add a 40 foot by 48 foot section which really wouldn’t give us what we need,” Lamb said.
“We talked about adding restrooms to the hitting facility, which doesn’t impact as much and then we got into seeing the new (7-8) gym done, the locker rooms, and some literally things around that could give us a facelift with smaller amounts of money.”
Lamb said one of the ideas was to redo the main gym floor, sand it down and repaint it which would cost about $30,000. The locker rooms could be improved incrementally with the district’s budget. He said both the boys' and girls' locker rooms were in need of updates. He said completely redoing the showering areas with the plumbing would probably stretch the budget too far.
Lamb also said purchasing new wrestling mats at about $11,000 each would be something that could be looked at. He also suggested the throwing area at the high school track could be leveled out for about $2,000.
“There’s a lot we could do with that money,” Chiri said. “Not saying we couldn’t do the tennis courts, but they are on the list.”
Board member Mio Santiago said he would like to see a greater vision of the high school athletic facilities and possibly hold onto the money until next year when that vision can be put together.
Lamb said seeing what is being done in the new gym, the biggest impact with the most benefit to everyone would be redoing the gym floor and making the whole main gym look new.
“You’ve got volleyball, you’ve got basketball, you’ve got wrestling, and you’ve got all those different sports currently using that. I would then like to see how much additional stuff we could do outside of that, but the locker rooms and the gym floor would be two large investments that would pay back well,” he said.
He said the gym was built in 1970 and the floor could be resurfaced a couple more times before it would need to be completely replaced.
Board member Brad Menke asked if Carl A. Nelson had indicated any intention to release some contingency funds on the current construction project, but District Business Manager Sandy Elmore said the company isn’t yet willing to release any of those funds with the project still ongoing.
“Not that we didn’t ask, but he just didn’t want to commit to that. He felt they were not far enough along, especially with more summer work coming up,” Elmore said.
Board Chairman Josh Wykert asked Lamb if the tennis courts are still playable this year and potentially next.
“In my opinion? Yes,” Lamb said. “The tennis courts are level, they do have cracks, but there’s no change in the surface from one area to the next.”
Lamb said the courts are average compared to other Southeast Conference facilities. Chiri said there could be additional patching done by district staff.
The board told Chiri to move forward in the best way he sees fit. Menke said if the gym floor and the other things could be done this summer, he would be for that, and then do the patching of the tennis courts.
Wykert said kicking the can down the road a year may not be a bad idea either.
“I hate taking a kid to the store with a $5 bill, because he’s gonna find something for $5,” Wykert said.
“We know we have this $350K or whatever it is. We don’t need to spend just to spend it. We could roll it to next year. It’s still in the same fund for bricks and mortar. I hate sinking it into tennis courts because that affects so few students. I hate spending money just because we got it.”
Lamb said the weight room and the gym floor and the locker rooms are things that absolutely need fixes.
“The tennis courts are right up there and need to be looked at.”
Chiri said the committee has talked about finding more money for things like a new training facility, fixing the baseball field, and turf on the football field.
“Those are giant things. I do have turf for the football field in 10 years.”
Fort Madison High School co-principal Patrick Lamb told Chiri turfing the football field has been on the 10-year plan for the past seven years.
Chiri said he will move forward with the fund based on the direction of the conversation at hand. Wykert said he would be thumbs down on spending any money this year and getting a more comprehensive look at what needs done with the athletic facility.
“I don’t see a champion project right now.”
In other action, the board
• heard a basic budget presentation from Elmore with some initial numbers including a projected $16.2 million budget framed around a 2.5% allowable growth that's projected to be submitted by Governor Kim Reynolds.

Fort Madison, athletic facilities, projects, budget, school district, board of directors, tennis courts, gyms, locker rooms, news, Pen City Current, Jeff Lamb, Nic Chiri


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