Work will include new track, upgrades at the elementary
With school out for the summer, the East Buchanan C-1 School District has started some of the preliminary work for its $2.2 million improvements project, including breaking ground on the new track at the high school.
Work has started on improvements at the East Buchanan High School football stadium, where the district will be adding an eight-lane, all-weather track this summer. Work will include the track, moving the football field to the west by 15 feet, installing a retaining wall and reworking the grandstands. The track is part of a larger project that includes work at the elementary school.
The district announced this week that the football field and track facility will be closed to the public during construction. The district will be adding am eight-lane, all-weather track, which will allow East Buchanan to host its own track meets, if it chooses to do so, while making the school eligible to host KCI Conference, district and sectional meets.
In order for everything to fit properly, the district will need to move the football field approximately 15 feet to the west, and in doing so, better drainage will be added. A retaining wall by the grandstands will be constructed. Due to the current orientation of the press box and how it blocks sight lines for spectators on the top two sections of the bleachers, the home grandstands will also be extended down toward the track. The structure of the away bleachers on the west side of the field will also need to be changed. There will also be upgrades to the stadium lighting.
The new track – which will be rubberized and red in color – will bring East Buchanan up to par with many schools in the KCI Conference and the greater region. In 2010, North Platte was the only school in the KCI Conference with an eight-lane all-weather track. Lawson had an all-weather track, but with fewer lanes than the standard eight.
Since then, Lathrop, West Platte, Mid-Buchanan and Plattsburg have each added eight-lane tracks to their facilities.
Long-time East Buchanan track coach Jeff Harlin said that the new track will be a huge win for the athletes, who will not only get to practice on the kind of surface they see most during competition, but will have its own home, like the other athletic programs at EBHS.
“I have been involved in track and field at some level (middle school or high school) since 2003,” Harlin said. “Beginning this year, we will have a place where hurdlers can practice appropriately. A place where our relay exchanges won’t need field marking paint. A place where our high jumpers will actually have an area devoted to them. A place where we can train and hold true to our workout plans, even though a shower rolled through at 11:30 in the morning, and on and on. It is an exciting time for East Buchanan athletics.
“I’ve said for years that East Buchanan is a ‘track school.’ Our two state championships on the boys side, the amount of fans who travel to watch our athletes, and our numerous state qualifiers and medalists, I believe, quantify that. Soon we will be a ‘track school’ with an actual eight-lane, all-weather track.”
Beyond the track, East Buchanan is set to make additional improvements, mostly in the elementary.
The East Buchanan Elementary offices will be moved from their current location at the east end of the main hall to T hallway, closer to the center of the main hall and on the south side entrance. Superintendent Dr. John Newell said this will serve a couple different purposes. It will allow the office staff to greet and direct visitors immediately upon entry, while providing ADA accessibility at the building’s new main entrance.
The district will add double-door secure entry in several places in the elementary, including the new main entrance and the former main entrance by the newer gymnasium. The building will also receive lighting upgrades for the classrooms and new HVAC units.
The project will be funded through a lease-purchase agreement with L.J. Hart & Company using the district’s existing $0.80 levy for capital improvements (no tax increase is needed). In avoiding a bond issue for the project, the district will remain without any kind of bonding debt. Dr. Newell expects the payments to run through 2036 and the annual payment amount will depend on how the district chooses to structure the principal and interest. After some time, the district will also have the option to pay it down quicker.
This will be the district’s second major lease-purchase in recent history, the other being the two-phased construction of the new high school. Dr. Newell said the district currently owes approximately $6.9 million on that agreement, which is set to be paid off in 2034. The district has paid ahead on this lease-purchase and has refinanced in the past to gain a lower interest rate and save money. The district expects the interest rate to be just less than two percent on the new lease-purchase.
East Buchanan will also spend a portion of its newest COVID-19 relief funds – approximately $250,000 – toward the HVAC upgrades at the elementary.
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