Somerset Ind. board endorses high school, athletics complex improvements; superintendent: $6.5 million project may require classes in day, work crews at night

Commonwealth-Journal, Somerset, April 2, 2017

Somerset board eying facelift for SHS, Clara Morrow Field

Plans for project to be submitted to Department of Education

A $6.5 million facelift could be in the future for the Somerset High School and adjoining Clara Morrow soccer field, if all goes according to plan. Somerset Independent’s board approved the first steps in that direction.

Now, the next step is to send the project application, referred to as a BG-1, to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) for review KDE will have 30 days to review the project. If approved, the process of securing bids will begin.

Work could begin as early as June, said Superintendent Kyle Lively “We’re hoping to start work over the summer months, and we hope we’re on track for that,” he said.

The hope is for work to be carried out from June 2017 to June 2018, but Lively said that he realizes a renovation project of this scope could take up to two years to complete.

Meanwhile, the school will still be open for business as classes will continue while construction is going on. For that reason, Lively said the board is looking into ways of working around that, such as possibly having contractors work at night.

The project’s highest priority is to upgrade the high school’s HVAC system, but other items being looked at are updating the facade of the building’s walls, bricks and grouting in some places, updating the entrance (which means goodbye to the glass bricks), improvements to the courtyard that fix water drainage problems, and expanding the cafeteria and improving traffic flow and access to restrooms around that area.

Lively seemed most interested in the upgraded HVAC system and pointed to it as having a direct impact on the students. “The level of fresh air coming into the high school right now, it’s just not a good quality. Our HVAC is dated,” he said.

“By upgrading the HVAC, the kids will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and having that makes for a better learning environment for the students.”

As for the soccer complex, plans are to add locker rooms to accommodate both boys’ and girls’ teams and improve the entrance to include a permanent concession area and public restrooms.

The benefits, therefore, will be for the players and visitors alike. Lively pointed out that the lack of locker room space at the field has meant the teams were rotating the use of the on-field rooms, and that some have been having to use locker rooms in the high school, near the basketball court. “Right now, the girls are using a PE locker room because it’s the boy’s turn to use the soccer room.” He noted that other teams, like the basketball or football teams, all have their own locker rooms and separate facilities.

He also said that the field house would contain the concession stand which is currently in a temporary building.

The new facility “will be a great addition to the high school grounds,” and will be built to match the high school, making soccer field more of a part of the campus.
“It will definitely serve the student athletes playing soccer. I think those student athletes deserve a nice facility.”

The overall project is designed to balance both the historical significance of the building while bringing aspects of it into a more modern era. Lively called this the “right time” for the renovations in terms of having the bonding capacity to finance the project, putting money into the renovations in the knowledge that the district will save money on maintenance costs in the future.

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