The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 30, 2013

Sloppy soil may delay track/field construction

Conneaut site needs stabilizing, school board told

CONNEAUT — The future home of Conneaut High School’s new track/field facility needs a little boost before construction can begin in earnest, officials said.

Compression tests conducted on the property, which sits across the street from the CHS football stadium on Maple Avenue, revealed the soil needs to be stabilized before work can progress, according to Kent Houston, Conneaut Area City Schools superintendent. Remedies are available, but the cost will bite into donations that will fund the work, he told school board members at a Wednesday night work session.

Also, the facility’s original completion deadline may be jeopardized, Houston said.

“We’re still on schedule for November 1,” he said. “We’re hoping for good weather to keep things moving forward.”

The track/field facility, expected to cost $680,500, is taking shape on several acres of land donated to the district a few years ago by Gerald and Mary Eighmy. Money for the construction will come from more than $1 million raised via donations to the CARE for Kids program. Officials had hoped to use the surplus to buy sports equipment, but Houston — at a Wednesday night school board meeting — indicated some of that money may now be earmarked for soil improvement work.

A “pretty high water table” at the site is a big part of the problem, Houston said. Contractors can either introduce stone or cement into the soil to add strength, he said. Administrators are awaiting quotes for each option, and the numbers will be relayed to board members as soon as they arrive, Houston said.

“Things are pretty tight time-wise, so you will have to say ‘go’ pretty quickly,” he told the board.

Cement was used to correct a similar soil situation when Lakeshore Primary School was built several years ago.

In related news, Houston said a multi-use building being constructed at the football field probably won’t be ready in time for the Spartans’ home opener on Sept. 13, Houston said. “It should be done by the Homecoming game (in October),” he said.

Trusses sit atop the block building, plumbing and electrical installation is under way and an epoxy coating will be applied to the floor to repair some flaws, Houston said. Cost of the building — which will house a concession stand, rest rooms and storage space — is being financed through donations to the CARE for Kids program.

Also during the work session Houston reviewed the district’s recent state report card with the board. Some results were very good and gains were made in several categories, he said.

“We had a pretty dog-gone good attendance rate,” he said.

Other results were “disappointing,” such as test scores posted at some grade levels, Houston said. Houston has reshuffled staff for 2013-2014 and believes the new line-up will get better results, especially at Gateway Elementary, home to students in grades 3-5.

“The right mix of instructors can impact some change,” he said. “I’m tired of hearing, ‘Oh, it’s the kids.’ I believe the person in the classroom can make all the difference, and the group we have there now has the ability to get it done.”

Report card numbers charted over the past three years have shown the value of putting the right teacher in the right position, he said.

“We’re trying to attack these areas,” Houston said. “The decisions we make are based on data.”

During the work session and subsequent regular meeting the board handled a variety of personnel matters. Among them, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of Gateway teacher Alaina Kilpatrick, who has accepted another position outside the district. Her position will be filled by Becky Betteridge.

• Gave coaching contracts to Adam Lytle (CHS girls tennis) and Mitch Bidwell (middle school wrestling)

• Accepted the resignation of ex-coaches/advisors Rocco Dobran (assistant baseball), Katie Newcomb (majorette) and Mary Holdson (assistant softball)

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