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Grayson to use grants for school projects

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Bleacher repairs planned for GCHS and Fries ball field, along with work at county schools, using leftover funding.

By Patrick Smith

INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County School Board will seek to replace Grayson County High School football field’s bleachers using leftover grant funds from the school’s recent athletic field and facilities renovation project.
The board also plans to use some of the funding for various other needs around the schools.
Approximately $200,000 was left from the recent project, which installed new turf to the GCHS football field and renovated athletic facilities at Independence Elementary School and the Bridle Creek practice field. At its December meeting, the school board faced a choice of three options on how to use the money.
The first option was to use the entire $200,000 for the bleacher project at GCHS, which Superintendent Kevin Chalfant said would cover the cost of removing the existing cement bleachers and installing new aluminum bleachers that would seat 1,100 fans. Chalfant said the project would both improve the appearance of the field and address safety problems, adding that skunks and snakes have been found living in the cracks of the current bleachers.
“The argument would be that it will cost all of $150,000-$200,000 to replace them,” he said. “But if we don’t use it for this now, when will we have this kind of opportunity again?”
The second option was to use the money for various maintenance needs in the county’s schools, such as the installation of new boilers at GCHS and Independence Elementary School ($50,000), electrical and air conditioning upgrades at Independence Middle School ($16,000), or replacing the steam lines and traps at GCHS ($65,000).
Chalfant pointed out that choosing this option would require prioritizing the many needs in the schools across the county and narrowing a list down to the most pressing needs.
Lastly, the third option was to combine the other two options, providing $100,000 for the bleacher project and using the other $100,000 for two or three of the other needed upgrades listed in option two. Chalfant explained that $100,000 would not pay for the entire bleacher project, so if the board chose this option, the rest of the funding would need to be obtained through a community effort.
For the other upgrades, any remaining funding needed to complete the projects could come from year-end funds and/or as part of the 2014/2015 maintenance budget.
Chalfant said under this option, if the additional funds needed to complete the bleacher project are not pledged in writing by May 1, 2014, the $100,000 may be used to complete additional projects listed in option two.
After hearing all the options, board members expressed that they liked option three.
“I personally like option three of spreading it around,” said school board member Gary Burris. “I think option one is too much at one time.”
School board member Shannon Holdaway agreed, but said that price estimates on the option two projects were a bit outdated. “Option three gives us flexibility in moving forward, but we need to prioritize option two,” he said. “I’d like to see more details on option two, but I think we’ll end up back at option two either way.”
After discussion, Holdaway made a motion to move forward with option three. After a second, the board voted unanimously in favor of option three.
The school board sent the approved resolution for the projects to the Grayson Board of Supervisors to review during its monthly meeting held Dec. 12. Supervisors approved a public hearing on the matter, which is planned during their next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 9.

Fries grandstand project put on hold
Also during their Dec. 9 meeting, the school board voted to send a proposal to the board of supervisors for a capital construction project to repair the grandstand roof of the Fries athletic facility, which is owned by the school system.
If approved by the supervisors after a public hearing, the project would be a joint venture between the school board, the board of supervisors and the Town of Fries.
The total cost is estimated at $30,000. The school board’s proposal was that they would provide $10,000 if the supervisors agreed to provide a matching contribution of $10,000.
The proposal also stated that the Town of Fries would provide $10,000 worth of labor to remove and replace the old roof with a new metal one.
Any additional funds, the proposal said, would be used to refurbish the concession stand on the property.
Supervisors received the request from the school board to hold a public hearing on the matter during their Jan. 9 meeting, but voted to table further action or discussion on the matter until a later date.