Changing economics could help long-planned improvement to Spencer Co. sports fields, bus garage; cost decline on new elementary school boosts optimism

Spencer Magnet, Taylorsville, April 19, 2017

Board eyes athletic complex, bus garage
By John Shindlebower

Spencer County High School’s athletic program could get a much-needed facelift as members of the school board are considering a $2.8 million project for an athletic and academic complex to be build near the school’s athletic fields.

It’s part of a possible $5 million investment that will also include refurbishing the track around the football field, improved tennis courts and lights for the baseball field, as well as bus garage and maintenance facility to be located near the new Taylorsville Elementary School.

Superintendent Chuck Adams and members of the board of education met in a working session last Thursday to discuss the plans, and Adams said Friday morning that he hopes ground can be broken on the projects this fall.

No final approval has been given by the board, and Adams said the next step will be for the board to approve the BG1, a document that will initiate the capital project process. He said he’d like to have that approved as soon as possible so construction can begin in a few months, with the facilities ready for the beginning of the 2018 school year.

Both projects, the athletic complex and the bus garage, have been discussed for years as a need, but Adams said both were put on the back burner because the greater need was the new Taylorsville Elementary School, which is currently under construction and should be ready for the beginning of next school year.

He said the TES project, which was estimated to cost at least $14 million, will likely come in at least a half million under budget, and he said recent prevailing wage legislation passed in Frankfort will also mean reduced costs for the new projects.

The athletic/academic complex will be an 11,450 square foot facility that will include a weight room, locker rooms, coach’s offices, along with an office for training, equipment storage, restrooms and concessions area. It will be a significant improvement over the facilities currently available. There will also be two classrooms in the building.

There is a small block building that serves as a concession stand, and restrooms for all fields are now limited to small, outdated facilities near the baseball field. During football season, when large crowds, including fans from visiting teams pack the field, the facilities are inadequate.

Adams said the current facilities are somewhat of “laughing stock” and said local students deserve better. He said the district’s first priority is to ensure academic improvement, and he said recent results have Spencer County near the top of schools in the Ohio Valley Education Cooperative.

“We want that same pride in everything we do,” said Adams. He said the school’s athletic teams have been succeeding much better on the field and court, and he wants the district to move ahead in all aspects.

“Everything is moving in the same direction at the same time,” he said.

Adams said the role of extra-curricular activities can’t be underestimated.

“Some kids only come to school because of the extracurriculars like sports and clubs. But they understand that they have to do well in their academics to take part in those.” He said extracurriculars are effective motivation for kids to put forth effort in the classroom.

In addition to the complex, the board may also consider $450,000 for lights at the baseball field, as the Bears often are forced to end games early or are limited in the number of JV games because of darkness. They are also looking to spend $200,000 to resurface the track and $85,000 for improvements to the tennis courts.

Currently, buses are kept in an unsecured lot behind the courthouse on Jefferson Street and maintenance is done in a leased building at the corner of Main and Garrard. Adams said the current situation is very limiting, as the leased garage has only one lift, and the buses are vulnerable to vandalism and theft.

“Considering how open our buses are downtown, I’m surprised they’re not more vandalized than they are,” he said.

The new garage and maintenance facility would be a 8,600 square foot building that would include four bays and three lifts for maintenance, and would offer a much more secure location for parked buses.

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