What is the vision for the new athletic fields?
The School District’s vision is to have high quality, accessible, and welcoming practice and playing fields for the students and community of Marshfield for the next 30 plus years. The School District has consciously worked to upgrade its school buildings over the past two decades, and has invested nearly $40 million during that time for this purpose. It is now time to focus on renovating and constructing new athletic facilities in which the District and community can be proud.
What will they cost? What are the details of those costs?
The costs are as follows:
- Sports Complex at Marshfield High School $7.49 Million
- Baseball/Softball Diamonds west and south of High School $1.46 Million
- Stadium/Track renovations at Marshfield Middle School $1.55 Million
Total: $10.5 Million
These costs include all the basic amenities and features that you would expect to find in high quality sports facilities. For the high school sports complex, this includes items such as concession and restroom areas which are handicap accessible, a synthetic sports turf surface for football and soccer, an eight-lane high school regulation track, designated spots for discuss, shot put, and bleacher sections that can hold up to 4,000 spectators. The baseball and softball diamonds will include spectator bleachers, dugouts, fencing, and fields large enough to support full size competitions. Renovations at the middle school track and Beell stadium include a rebuilt six-lane track, designated areas for field events, and bleacher seating. The lights at Beell stadium will remain operational for evening events. Also included in these costs are all necessary excavation and infrastructure work.
Why do these facilities cost more than those in neighboring communities?
There are many variables that factor into the construction costs of a particular project, many of which may not be comparable from one community to the next. For example, because the sports complex at Marshfield High School requires use of the existing parking lot, additional site parking needs to be reconstructed in other areas near the High School to maintain adequate parking spaces. The parking lot currently used for bus pick-up and drop off near the front of the school will also need to be relocated to permit adequate student and staff parking. Other infrastructure costs, such as curb and gutter, and driveway turn-ins all need to be constructed to accommodate the new facility. Still other District sites, such as the property west of the high school, has been virtually untapped and may require additional excavation work to simply get the surface up to a useable standard.
How did the School District decide on these athletic facility upgrades?
Discussions concerning renovating the School District’s athletic facilities have been ongoing for over a decade. In 2015, the School District contracted with Rettler Corporation to assist in developing a comprehensive athletic facility plan to present to the School Board. An Ad Hoc committee was formed with District staff, community leaders, and others who regularly use the athletic facilities. The committee work included collecting information, surveying community members, visiting other sites, and defining the needs of the school district that address deficiencies of the present fields. From this, recommendations were prepared and submitted to the School Board by Rettler Corporation in the form of a comprehensive athletic facility plan. After further discussion and consideration, the School Board approved a site plan and defined the scope of the projects to be completed. Although this athletic facility plan may not include all the School District sites or address all the athletic facility needs, it does address the highest priority of needs as well as the facilities that get used by the largest number of students.
How are these fields going to be paid for?
The funding plan calls for a mix of private and School District dollars. The Marshfield School Board has indicated the District would provide a $1 dollar match for every $2 privately raised up to the total estimated project cost of $10.5 million. If the community is able to fundraise $7 million for the project, the District would cover the remaining $3.5 million.
Why can’t the District just pay for these?
The School District receives tax revenue from state and local taxes that are intended to cover the operational costs of the District. However, the amount allocated to each District is based on a system created over twenty years ago that inadvertently punishes low spending Districts like Marshfield. This is primarily the reason Marshfield has needed many operational referendum to sustain their current program offerings. No consideration was given and no funding has been provided to cover significant building projects such as new schools or major capital projects like this.
The School District does have the option to put this project to the voters on a referendum ballot. However, the School Board is very sensitive to the frequency and amounts it requests when it seeks additional funding through this process. Since 2002, the School District has gone to referendum seven times for both facility needs and operations. The School Board prefers to seek funding for this project through private donations so as to avoid further burdening the taxpayers with additional tax increases. Should the fundraising efforts prove unsuccessful, the School Board does have the option to pursue funding through a referendum, but this isn’t something under consideration at the current time.
How can the District afford $3.5 million as part of the cost to the project when it is always asking taxpayers for more money through referendum to pay for programs?
The School District currently does not have the funds available for this project, but does have the option to seek additional financing through borrowing. The repayment of this borrowing would involve making room in the current operational budget without an increase to the overall bottom line. Therefore, it wouldn’t result in an added increase to the taxpayer. Also, the School District has started a long-term capital improvement fund to help address future capital needs.
Isn't this really just deferred maintenance?
The District has spent nearly $40 million in school building upgrades over the past two decades. When maintenance dollars are available, they generally are used to address the significant costs of maintaining seven schools. Beell Stadium was built in 1941 when the now Middle School was the High School. Due to increase usage, the facilities are now in need of more than general maintenance.
Isn’t there a group that is interested in developing athletic fields near the south end of town? Why isn’t the District collaborating with them on these facilities?
The School District’s priorities are to upgrade its existing facilities for academic and extra-curricular use. This includes the construction of a multi-use stadium at the high school campus for easier access for high school students, while remaining accessible for community use. The proposed athletic expansion on the south end of town includes different facilities than what the District listed as priorities.
Are there plans to improve the facilities for other extracurricular activities, such as theater and band?
The School District continues to invest a considerable amount of resources for extracurricular activities such as theatre and band. Over the past decade, there has been over $1 million spent on renovating and upgrading the auditorium, band, orchestra and choir rooms.
- 4,000 additional square feet of space was added to the band area alone
- 2,900 square feet of remodeled space for music, choral, and orchestra use
- $225,000 on upgrades to the High School auditorium used for musicals and dramas
- The little theatre at the High School has also been renovated
In addition, when the new elementary schools were completed in 2006 designated space was provided for music classes and lessons.
Who will be able use the new facilities, Columbus Catholic, Parks & Rec., community members?
It is the desire of the School District that these facilities be enjoyed by the entire community. Indeed, the School Board has approved policy that expressly states “…school facilities of this District should be made available for community purposes, provided that such use does not infringe on the original and necessary purpose of the property or interfere with the educational program of the schools and is harmonious with the purposes of this District.” District leaders have met with leaders from both Columbus Catholic School and the City of Marshfield to discuss the project plans and opportunities to share the facilities. Sharing District facilities with the private schools and the city has in fact been a practice well before this project was ever proposed.
How will donors be recognized?
Donors will be recognized in a variety of ways. There are naming opportunities for many specific spaces (a list is available on request), and we are currently working with the architects to develop a donor recognition area as part of the overall design. All gifts are greatly appreciated.
When will the new athletic fields be open to the public?
Construction of the facilities could begin as early as the summer of 2018 with tentative completion in the fall of 2019. The timeline is tentative and based on campaign progress and available funding.
What will it cost to operate the new athletic facilities and how will that be funded?
The School District fully expects increased upkeep and maintenance costs will result from completion of these facilities. Staff are in the process of collecting information from other school districts who have completed similar projects to learn what they encountered in terms of added costs for maintenance. The School District will need to find monies in its available operational budget to cover these added costs. If situations arise where higher than expected revenue or cost savings occur, an opportunity may be available to set aside funds in the long-term capital improvement fund for future upkeep and maintenance.
What will happen to the donations if the full goal is not met?
While we anticipate that we will achieve or exceed the $7 million goal for the capital campaign, all donors can be assured that their gifts will be used for capital expenditures for the athletic fields. If we need to revise the plans due to funding, we will notify each donor. Regardless of the total amount raised, the School District is still committed to providing a $1 match to every $2 of private funds raised.