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Wed, Oct. 16

Board to mull uses for B bond money

Humboldt Unified School District is looking to reallocate some of the B Bond money from a planned nonexistent middle school and an underutilized high school to Liberty Traditional School and Bradshaw Mountain High School West.

The district's B Bond Committee members recommended to HUSD governing board at this past week's meeting that some of the money under the "Improvements to Athletic and Playground Facilities" category be moved from two school sites to benefit two other schools.

Voters approved the $41 million bond in 2006 that set aside specific amounts of money to pay for projects in specific categories.

The Arizona School Facilities Board indefinitely postponed Pronghorn Middle School as well as the build-out of the east campus of BMHS because of flat or declining enrollment the district is experiencing.

Supt. Henry Schmitt and the B Bond Committee are recommending that B Bond money set aside in the athletic category for these two schools go towards a cinder track, baseball field and playground upgrades for LTS, and to a state-of-the-art 9-lane track, synthetic turf football field, and major upgrades to its baseball fields for BMHS.

The school board will decide at its Nov. 4 meeting whether to move $2,170,725 from Pronghorn Middle School and $250,000 from BMHS East campus to BMHS West and LTS for athletic improvements, for a total of nearly $2.5 million.

Schmitt said he obtained a legal opinion from Michael Cafiso, attorney with Greenberg Traurig, that the language contained in the B Bond voter pamphlet allows the district to use B Bond money for athletic and playground facilities at "any existing

school."

"We walked the sites with the coaches at Liberty Traditional and the west campus, and basically told them, 'Give us your Christmas list.' The committee reprioritized everything on the list," Schmitt said.

He provided the board with justifications for spending $967,000 for synthetic turf and $500,000 for the 9-lane all-weather track.

"A synthetic turf for the football field would result in cost saving for water, maintenance, and labor," Schmitt said, adding that water costs were $30,000 this past year.

Such a field would also prove to be a source of revenue as the district would charge youth and adult leagues and for-profit teams to use the fields. He said there is a strong possibility the district could hold State AIA championships on the new fields.

"This will indeed distinguish ourselves from other districts," Schmitt said.

BMHS Athletic Director Maury Rubles said he spent three years researching artificial turf companies and costs. Hellas Construction, Inc., the company he recommends, offers an 8-year warranty, and said the life span of artificial turf is usually10-12 years. The field can bear 60 hours a week of competition use, compared to 5-6 hours of use it currently gets.

Ruble said the district would not allow dogs, Gatorade or sodas on the field. Those things, and excessive bleeding or vomit that may occur during practice or competition, are fairly easy to take care of by flushing with water. Every 90 days, maintenance workers would spray the field with a disinfectant.

"Research shows that these fields are safer on the knees and heads in terms of concussions and injuries," Ruble said.

He added that community members would need some education on care of the field.

"The majority will help protect and guard the usage. We're not going to roll out a cot and chase dogs off," Ruble said.

Informational material from Hellas indicates the turf field would pay for itself in cost savings after ten years.

The plans for Liberty Traditional include three playground areas, five outdoor shade structures, various equipment, basketball court, baseball/softball field, asphalt track, shade trees, tables, benches and drinking fountains.

Schmitt called the LTS playgrounds an eyesore and said the half-million-dollar overhaul will provide parity between the middle schools. He said the school's PTO could cover the costs of the shade structures.

The district must spend 85 percent of its B Bond money by April 1, 2011.

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