At the Monday, April 24 R-P School Board meeting, concerned parent Steve Highum brought concerns from the parents of baseball team members to light. The concern stems from heavily reduced game opportunity for the junior varsity squad. The number of games for the 2017 season had been drastically reduced.
“This is a big blow to our kids,” said Highum. “How are they supposed to get better as a team? They’re supposed to have fun playing this game. Our kids deserve to be better respected than this.”
Activity Director Dan Bieberdorf wasn’t surprised by some of the frustrations and chalked the scheduling issue up to low player numbers and a roadblock within the Three Rivers Conference. “It’s tough to field two teams,” he stated. In the last two seasons, the eighth grade junior high team and varsity teams played the same nights and at the same site, while the junior varsity played the same night at an alternate field. “We have to have enough to make it work,” added Bieberdorf. There are just 17 players, grades 9-12, for the R-P team, compared to more than 60 in other districts.
Following a Three Rivers Conference meeting last year, the option to have a varsity game followed by a junior varsity game was explored and eventually done. “It was a great opportunity for us,” said Bieberdorf. “We were developing and creating a positive experience for the kids.”
Feedback from other districts in the conference said, overwhelmingly, that the game setup didn’t work. Due to lack of interest in other 12 districts in the conference, which made up 17 of 20 games, R-P was forced to cancel more than two thirds of its junior varsity games. “Therein lies the challenge. How do we get games for our junior varsity?” asked Bieberdorf.
Highum questioned the option of starting games earlier, as several districts don’t have field lights, which leads to shortened innings of second games. “Somebody’s got to give. We’re a small school,” added Highum.
The ninth grade players have the option to dress for the varsity game. “It seems to be a lot would be playing anyway,” said Board Chair John Linder. “The focus has to be on the varsity. We have to make distinctions. Everyone gets their chance eventually.”
Bieberdorf noted that several options can continue to be explored and attempts will be made to get as much practice and game time as possible. “We’re trying, but that’s the best we can do. That’s not to say it’s enough, because it’s not.”
Progress on the new school site is now closing in on 100 days until completion. “It’s still moving along at a blistering pace,” said Tim Robertson, representative for the district from ICS Consulting. “We’re coming around that last corner. I know it doesn’t seem like it.”
“Yes, it does,” chimed in Superintendent Chuck Ehler, earning a round of chuckles.
The first sanding of the terrazzo flooring is underway and concrete paving is going in outside the building. Restrooms are being finalized and boards and projector items are being installed. Gym equipment is also being finalized and crews expect to move the gym’s wood floor in a week to 10 days. It will sit to allow the wood to acclimatize to the new site before being installed in the new gym. Carpet, doors, and hardware are underway. The theatre is being painted and chairs are expected to go in within the next two weeks. “It’s starting to look like a school,” added Robertson.
Change order #10 was presented to the board for approval in the amount of $95,354. Robertson noted the amount seems substantial, however, of the entire $38 million project ($34 million so far) and $1 million in presented change orders, just $230,000 in change orders has been approved prior to this request. “That’s just over half of a percent of the contract,” he added. The request was approved unanimously.
Other requests for approval from the board included athletic field enhancements. Working with Winona Nursery, development of plans for field enhancements have been broken into five phases totaling an estimated $322,000-347,000. The funds would be provided by any dollars remaining from construction funds, grants, and the district’s operating capital.
Phase 1: May 1 — June 1 encompasses development of the waterway on the east edge of the football/track area. It includes removal of pine trees, construction of the waterway, tile line, and seeding and is estimated at $55,000-60,000.
Phase 2: June 1 — June 30 is slated to develop practice areas including the two softball fields, a soccer field, and a football field. Tile work and an irrigation system are included as well. The estimated cost of Phase 2 is $87,000-92,000.
Phase 3: July 1 — August 15 will be set for development of the existing softball fields. Included is shaping the diamond, installation of lime ground surface, an irrigation system, and installation of fencing. The estimated cost is $90,000-95,000.
Phase 4: August 15 — October 15 would see complete installation of dugouts, batting cages, and other related items and is estimated at $35,000-40,000.
The last segment, Phase 5: October 15-November 15, encompasses reshaping and grading of the current football practice field. It includes shaping and regrading of the field, installation of irrigation, and seeding and is estimated at $55,000-60,000.
The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is May 22, at 5:30 p.m., in the high school biology room. Please note the one-time schedule shift from the third Monday to the fourth Monday of the month. The public is encouraged to attend.