CUSD 7 board members authorized the expenditure of up to $12,000 from revenue generated from a new Macoupin County School Facilities Sales Tax to improve drainage from the problematic baseball field infield area.
In a unique arrangement, baseball coach Jeremy Smith agreed to pay the funds back to the district over a period of about five years from fundraising activities. Baseball is one of several athletic programs dependent upon fundraising activities on the part of players, parents and supporters.
In an announcement posted on social media, coach Smith said any community members, baseball alumni or community organizations wishing to help the baseball program repay the expense to the school district will be recognized at the baseball complex purportedly by a longterm sign or similar recognition. “We could have the money paid off quicker or do more in improvements to the field,” Smith said of utilizing the donations.
Supt. Joe Tieman said the project seems to be the most cost-efficient approach to resolving drainage issues on the field. The field is prone to accumulating standing water during periods of wet weather, which typically coincide with the baseball season. Tieman said coaches and supporters sometimes resort to digging holes in the field in an attempt to drain storm water from the field. Still, the field may remain too wet to play for a week or more, forcing the district to sometimes move games to other venues.
Tieman said several options for resolving the issue have been discussed in the past but have been rejected primarily due to the cost. Those options have included the possibility of installing permanent pumps to remove water at a cost of about $25,000 and a proposal developed by Ohio State University with a price tag of $50,000.
The option approved Monday night calls for a multi-phase project to start this fall. District workers will apply a herbicide to kill the grass on the infield area, after which trenches will be dug and ordinary field tile installed to carry water away to a ditch on the south side of the field. Once the tiling is installed, workers will bring in dirt to build up the infield’s elevation and new sod will be laid to complete the field.
Tieman said the tiling is expected to cost $1,300 to $1,500. The district expects to spend about $4,000 on bringing in dirt and grading the infield, and another $4,000 for sod. The baseball program will pay the funds back to the district at a rate of about $2,500 to $3,000 annually.
“I think it’s a good fix for the price,” Maintenance Director Rob Graham told the board. District maintenance workers will provide much of the labor, along with volunteers from the community.
In the long run, the school district wins. It won’t cost the taxpayers any money.
Board member Dave Griffel expressed concerns about draining the filed into the ditch on the south side, noting the ditch would then carry water east through a residential area. He said he would prefer taking the storm water to a ditch on the west side which ultimately empties into a ditch along Illinois Route 16. He recommended having a professional tiling company install the tile to ensure proper installation and drainage.
“I’ve had several thousand acres of farmland tiled,” he said, adding that he believed the district could use a professional installation crew without spending significantly more money.
Board members unanimously authorized the project on a motion by Bernot, seconded by Billy Carter, both of whom serve on the board’s Building and Grounds Committee. The project was referred back to the committee to hammer out details such as where the drainage should be directed.
Anyone interested in donating to the baseball program should contact head coach Jeremy Smith using his school email (email@example.com) or by calling Supt. Joe Tieman at 839-2464.
OTHER PROJECTS FROM NEW SALES TAX INITIATIVE
Also utilizing funds expected to accrue from the new sales tax initiative, the board agreed to hire DeLaurent Construction Co., Wilsonville, to asphalt a 7,500-square-foot parking area west of the existing high school agriculture building at a cost of $29,998. The lot will be used for teacher and staff parking during school days and will provide parking for football fans on nights when home games are scheduled. The lot is located directly across the street from the football field.
The board also agreed to re-gravel the student parking lot on the east side of the high school/middle school complex at cost of $14,648.
Tieman identified the parking lot projects as short-term needs the district needs to address. Ultimately, the School Facilities Sales Tax is expected to generate about $400,000 which must be used for permanent capital improvements. The district should start receiving disbursements from the tax starting in October. Since the fiscal year will be underway, school officials expect to receive only about $265,000 for the first fiscal year. Tieman noted the board has committed 20 percent of the new revenue to servicing construction bonds.
To help guide how the new revenue is used, Tieman suggested the board may want to appoint a committee to work on recommendations for long-term projects the district may want to accomplish with the sales tax funds.
Tieman reported that the Building and Grounds Committee already has tentatively discussed the need for creating a dedicated science lab at the high school level and addressing a drainage issue between the administration building and middle school.
“With our budget constraints and the uncertainty with state funding, there is no good time to spend money on parking lots or a baseball field,” said Bernot, who serves on the Building and Grounds Committee, “but this board has always been proactive.”
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