The Garden City USD 457 Board of Education, at a special meeting Thursday night, voted to remove and replace the all-weather track and its base at Horace Good Middle School's Memorial Stadium.

The board first discussed the topic at its regular meeting on June 4, weighing the positives and negatives of either removing and replacing the all-weather track for $373,950 or converting it to an asphalt or cinder track for $288,950 or $438,000, respectively. The track could also be removed and replaced with concrete for $316,840 or with grass for $322,000.

Karlin said at the June 4 meeting that while working on the orginal $130,000 track resurfacing project, crews discovered structural problems with the heavily eroded track base. The eroded base would not be able to support the resurfaced track, and the district determined that the needed structural repairs to the base would cost an additional $234,000 on top of the resurfacing.

At the end of the June 4 meeting, board members Tim Cruz, Jean Clifford and Lara Bors voted to remove and replace the track after doing the needed repairs to the base, and Dana Nanninga and Tim Hanigan voted against it. Jennifer Standley and Mark Rude were absent. Even though the vote was 3-2 in favor of the proposal, the board needed four affirmative votes to approve the project.

On Thursday night, with Standley and Rude voting in favor of removing and replacing the all-weather track and its base, the plan got the additional votes it needed as the board approved it by a 5-2 vote. Cruz, Bors, Clifford, Rude and Standley voted in favor of the proposal, and Nanninga and Hanigan voted no.

Any of the alternative options would have meant Memorial Stadium would not be able to host track meets, and that the middle schools would have to use other tracks at Garden City High School or Garden City Community College. District officials also said an asphalt track may contribute to student injuries, such as shin splints or joint problems.

Thursday’s session was limited mostly to follow-up questions from the previous meeting about materials, health implications, track uses and community impact.

After a short discussion, Hanigan made a motion to move forward with an asphalt track, which did not receive a second. Bors then made a motion to remove and replace the existing track and base, which Standley seconded.

Cruz asked for each board member to offer a comment before the vote. Hanigan said he did not believe an asphalt track would in itself cause joint problems and saw workarounds for other issues, like scheduling conflicts and inconveniences and parking availability. The biggest issue with replacing the existing track, to him, was the cost, which he emphasized would cost the district $150,000 every 10 years in maintenance.

Nanninga also addressed the cost, listing needed facility and building repairs at several district elementary schools that she thought would be a better use of the money. The school had shared one track and field with Garden City Community College before and could manage limited facilities again, she said.

Clifford said she thought Memorial Stadium was a community asset and wanted to invest in the community to keep it that way. Standley referred to an earlier comment she had made where she said she thought the district should maintain the facility that they had so that middle school students could best prepare for high school athletics.

Bors talked extensively about how the track affected more than the middle schools’ track programs. The track is used for two of HGMS and Kenneth Henderson Middle School’s annual track meets, at which special education students ran and raised money at the concessions stands, she said. She said it fostered an activity that may give students in multiple sports access to scholarships or simply a reason to stay in high school. Like Clifford and Standley, she stressed the importance of continuing to maintain the current facility, saying if the board was going to invest in the track, it should invest in the best resources and structure possible.

After the meeting, Bors countered concerns about the track’s cost with what the track brought to the community financially. According to a Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau economic impact formula, she said it would conservatively bring $800,000 to $1 million to Garden City over 10 years.

Rude agreed with Bors. He said he was concerned with the cost, as well, but if district financial officer KJ Knoll was comfortable with the short- and long-term funding strategies, he trusted her judgement. He said he loves when students see that the district is on “the cutting edge” of facilities, coaches and programs and thought it was important to fund resources that bolstered extracurricular activities.

In other business:

• The board approved the appointment of incoming Gertrude Walker Elementary School principal Amy Hollingsworth, who has worked as an instructional coach and a teacher in Dodge City USD 443 and as a teacher at Copeland USD 476. She will replace former Gertrude Walker principal Phil Keidel, who worked for the district for eight years.

The next board meeting will be a special meeting at 4:45 p.m. June 28 in the board meeting room at the Educational Support Center.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.