School board discussion focuses on new track, portable buildings
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov. 14, 2006 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees discussed a new athletic track during a regular monthly meeting Monday but will have to until at least December for specific cost estimates.

In October, SSISD athletic director Greg Owens presented a proposal to build a regulation track, which would be fenced in and closed to the general public. Other additions would be made at a later time, depending on funds availability and needs.

The school board asked for information, but no cost figures were available Monday. Officials are awaiting the results of soil samples before posting bids to get a general idea of costs. Administrators anticipated having the information available by December.

Board member Don Sapaugh said he supports the idea for a track, but his immediate concern is continued increases in student enrollment which could make the need for more classrooms, particularly at the elementary level, more imminent. He questioned the soundness of investing $400,000 on a track, and whether that would tie up funds that may be needed for portable buildings or building additions at elementary schools.

"We consider the track a classroom for those students, a requirement, not a frill," Superintendent Patsy Bolton said. "Sulphur Springs is the only 4A school district we compete with that doesn't have a track."

"All athletic programs and P.E. classes would use the track year 'round and benefit from it," added Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed.

Bolton said district administrators are of the opinion that, should portable buildings become a necessity, it would be more fiscally advantageous to lease portable buildings at a cost of $800-$900 a month. Also, it would eliminate the need to find ways to dispose of the portable facilities when the district no longer needs them.

"One of the problems with portable buildings is that you almost can't get rid of them," she said. "You can lease them for two to three years, then they'll come and pick it up."

The most feasible location, should any portable buildings be needed, would be at Bowie Elementary.

Bolton also assured Sapaugh and other board members that the district's fund balance is healthy enough that they could move students into portable classrooms today, if need be.

In other business Monday night, architects reported that the additions at ECLC and SSHS are on schedule.

The floor slabs and metal building structural components had been installed on both the south and north wing additions at ECLC. Construction crews will focus on exterior framing and sheathing, as well as roofing, so that work can continue inside the structure during fall rains and winter weather.

At SSHS, the tilt wall panels were completed and masonry construction continued at the band hall addition. At the science lab work has been focused on under floor plumbing and preparation made for the tilt-wall panels to be installed. 

The focus at both projects will be to complete as much exterior work as possible and to dry out the interior so that construction progresses indoors as the weather worsens.

All work on the four new additions is expected to be completed by March 31, 2007. At that point, classes will be moved into the new science wing in readiness for renovations in the old science wing and elsewhere.

In other business, the board nominated Eddie Northcutt to represent the district on Hopkins County Appraisal District Board of Directors for a two-year term beginning Jan. 1. Charles Sellers has served on the board for a number of years, but notified school officials he would be stepping down when his term expires on Dec. 31. Robert Van Winkle Sr. represents the school district in the second spot on the board.

Board member Carolyn Thomas was appointed to serve as Head Start liaison for the 2006-2007 school year. The school board also approved the following individuals to serve as the district's textbook committee: Patsy Bolton, chairman; from Sulphur Springs Middle School,  Carla Owens, Patty Reese and Pam Petty; and from Sulphur Springs High School, Mary Gilbertson, Gina Wilder and Linda Rankin. Tommy Panter will continue to be the district textbook coordinator.

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