MARTHA K. SEAGLE, STAFF WRITER
The schools are rethinking planned athletic facilities amid doubts about the best use of funds previously set aside for tennis courts at East Lincoln High School and ballfields at Lincolnton High School.
The Lincoln County Board of Education Building and Site Committee voted Monday to revisit those projects using school bond monies. The committee also denied a request to surplus 11 mobile classrooms no longer in use.
Darrell Gettys, Executive Director of Facilities for Lincoln County Schools, brought the proposed changes to the committee.
At East Lincoln, the current bond package includes $75,000 earmarked for two additional tennis courts.
â€œThe concern is the area found to place the courts,â€ Gettys said. The suggested location would eliminate some 70 parking spaces and would keep the tennis courts near busy N.C. 73.
â€œNo other area works without tremendous in-fill or taking away the football practice field,â€ Gettys said. Additionally, the actual cost to put in the two new courts is closer to $150,000, not including the necessary lighting, he said.
Some members of the East Lincoln High School administration have recommended that the allotted $75,000 be used instead to resurface the existing tennis courts at a projected $8,000, with the remaining funds going toward construction of a visitorsâ€™ side concession stand and main-entrance ticket booth.
While the school-bond package was on the ballot as a set amount to be used for the school system in general, Gettys told the committee that citizens had been told during public-input meetings that the tennis courts would be expanded. He wants board approval before using the funds for a different purpose.
Committee member George Dellinger provided some background on the tennis courts to newer board members.
â€œI have been here since it started and the players have had difficulty from Day 1 with the sun in their eyes,â€ Dellinger said. â€œWe need to figure out where the courts really need to be. Letâ€™s stop and make plans to do it correctly.â€
Dellinger added that the original courts were built by the Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Department, not by the school system.
Tim Woody, principal of East Lincoln High, told the committee that not having the two additional courts would not prevent East Lincoln from having tennis meets at the school.
â€œWe will just have to stretch them out longer,â€ Woody said. â€œIt makes more sense to us to finish the projects at the football stadium because two additional courts wonâ€™t do us much good without lighting.â€
After much discussion, the committee approved a motion for Gettys and his staff to perform a study for properly locating and constructing the tennis courts, allowing the available funds to go toward the proposed football stadium projects. However, that action must be approved by the full board before becoming official.
At Lincolnton High School, a similar issue involving different sports exists. The bond includes $60,000 earmarked for adding a softball field to the school campus. Originally, this construction was requested due to inadequate restroom facilities at Betty Ross Park, where the school currently plays its games.
Subsequently, restroom facilities at the park have improved and school officials prefer to continue playing their games there. They have requested that the funds be used to repair the school track.
â€œThe track has degraded to the point that it is becoming unusable,â€ Gettys said.
The committee agreed with this proposal, which also must go before the full board for a vote prior to becoming official.
Lastly, the committee did not approve a recommendation by Gettys to surplus and sell 11 mobile classroom units. Gettys said ongoing maintenance associated with the units is taking away funds that could be spent elsewhere in the system.
However, board chair Ed Hatley cautioned against selling the units. â€œI would hate to sell these at auction for $2,000 and then have to turn around and buy new ones for $35,000 in a couple of years,â€ Hatley said.
Several members noted that Rock Springs Elementary has no empty classrooms and that the addition at Iron Station Elementary replaces six mobile units with six classrooms, resulting in no net gain in available space.
As a result, the committee gave Gettys permission to surplus one mobile unit located at Kiser Intermediate which is in extremely poor condition, but to keep and maintain the remaining units.