Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Athletic center tops school board talks


By Tom Stankard
ROCKFORD - A potential new training facility for Parkway Local Schools athletes may become a reality.
Superintendent Greg Puthoff on Tuesday said he had spoken with representatives from architectural firm Garmann/Miller & Associates in Minster to discuss the project's feasibility.
"We're not sure exactly what we want right now," he said. "Their best guess was $1.9 million, depending on what we do."
At the Jan. 10 meeting, school hall of fame member Todd Henkle proposed building a 25,000-square-foot training facility.
Puthoff told board members Tuesday that the firm is willing to conduct a feasibility study by coming to the school, interviewing coaches, talking to board members and coming up with an idea of what the community wants and where it should be located. Puthoff said the feasibility study could cost about $5,000.
One option is to place the facility at the north end of the high school wing as a separate building, he said.
"I'm just looking at directions of where we want to go," he said. "These are just options."
Nearby districts have spent anywhere from $1.2 million to $5 million on training facilities, Puthoff added.
Board member Jeff Armstrong said he appreciates Puthoff's taking the initiative on the project. However, four years ago, Armstrong said he had asked Puthoff to look into offering students a second foreign language option in addition to Spanish.
"It would be really nice, for once, if this administration would go after academics with as much gusto as they did for sports," he said. "Until we go after academics, which will get our kids further in life, I am not going to support $1.9 million for a training facility that they want to try to burden the taxpayers with a levy."
In response, Puthoff said the school has no room to offer another class because all classrooms are being used.
In disagreement, Armstrong said teachers can use a classroom for more than one class.
Officials also discussed repairing the football stadium bleachers. Puthoff said one "main area" that needs improving is the flooring of the press box and the outside area that is starting to get "a little weak."
He said "a lot of things are grandfathered in," meaning the district doesn't have to make those improvements.
The problem is, he noted, that the school can't make improvements. It can only restore parts back to their original condition but can't make improvements beyond that level due to safety regulations.
"When we redo the floors, we're not going to make the floor better than it was to start with," he said. "We go back up to that same design. For example, we can't add handrails to the walkways going up."
Board members also discussed changes to the preschool program for the 2017-2018 school year.
District treasurer Debra Pierce said the program is operating "in the red." To help make ends meet, she said the number of days in session will need to increase from 132 to 142, from Aug. 23-May 21.
She said class times also will need to change. The morning session will be from 8-11:15 a.m. and the afternoon session will be from noon-3:15 p.m. Fees will be $3.50 per hour. The district will continue to offer free and reduced tuition to students who qualify based on family income.
In other action, board members,
• will schedule a special meeting sometime next week to begin the search for a new superintendent. Members on Feb. 8 approved Puthoff's retirement, effective July 31.
• approved membership to the Rockford Area Development Corp. as an executive member for 2017. Membership dues are $100.
• approved athletic coaches for the 2016-2017 school year: baseball: Luke Clouse as varsity head coach, Eric Stachler as varsity assistant, Kevin Kramer as varsity assistant, John Archer as freshman coach, Barry Peel as junior high coach, Don Miller as junior high coach, Brent Agler as junior high assistant volunteer coach and Wyatt Felver as junior high assistant volunteer coach; softball: Mark Esselstein as varsity head coach, Teri Samples as varsity assistant coach, Kyle Ahrens as varsity assistant coach, Trey Stover as junior high coach, Deb Kirby as junior high co-coach and Jessica Yoder as junior high co-coach, Brenden Bates as junior high softball assistant volunteer coach; girls' track: Dan Cairns as varsity coach, Jennifer Barrett as varsity assistant coach, Ann Vian as junior high coach and Valerie Baughman as junior high assistant coach; boys' track: Steve Fisher as varsity head coach, Dave Souers as varsity assistant coach, Jeremy Joseph as junior high head coach and Nathan Rupp as junior high assistant coach.
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