They want options.
During a Wednesday evening study session, several Lawrence school board members directed administrators to present scenarios with costs, including alternatives to playing home football games at Haskell Stadium.
"I personally think that we need to make a move for a facility over which we have control, definitely where football is played, because that's where we are totally dependent upon another provider," school board member Mary Loveland said.
After the discussion of outdoor athletic facilities, board members directed Superintendent Randy Weseman to report back to them with a list including costs of:
¢ Working together with Haskell Indian Nations University to improve the stadium, near 23rd Street and Barker Avenue, where Lawrence High School has played home games for decades and is also home to teams of Haskell and Free State High School.
¢ Developing a centralized district sports complex with plans for "probably varying looks," Weseman said.
¢ Upgrading the existing outdoor venues at each high school, for both practice and competition for outdoor sports.
The three-hour meeting with district and school administrators included discussions on several topics and a chance to provide focus on issues for the year.
Board members went into the most detail during the athletic facilities discussion. A springboard for the talks was the results of the recent Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, or PLAY, committee that surveyed athletic needs and estimated costs for construction of different options.
Weseman also produced letters from both County Administrator Craig Weinaug and City Manager David Corliss who said, because of their budget situations, that neither government had budgeted funds to help partner to implement any PLAY proposals for 2007 or 2008.
That would narrow the focus of what board members would pursue, Weseman said.
Board member Marlene Merrill said the district could not continue to depend on another institution for its venues and that costs would likely point to upgrading existing facilities at each high school.
Board member Rich Minder said he supported facility upgrades that "function in the service of learning."
"It's hard for me philosophically to put embarrassment relative to other communities in our region very high on our list," Minder said.
The school district has a contract to pay Haskell $3,000 per game for both Free State and LHS to play home football games there for now. Board members and administrators also said they appreciated the district's long-standing relationship with Haskell.
"If you're going to put options together, let's put all of them together," board member Craig Grant said.
The discussion centered around football, but the larger discussion will involve soccer, softball and baseball, as well, board members said.
With rain falling outside, LHS Principal Steve Nilhas said the grass playing surface at Haskell can present difficulties with three teams playing on it throughout the season.
He said he did support working with Haskell to upgrade the stadium under a certain agreement. Nilhas said Free State Principal Joe Snyder was supportive of having "on-site facilities."
Loveland and Scott Morgan voiced the most support for a district stadium.
"We really won't know what (the best option) is until we see the numbers, but it may be time for a district facility," Morgan said.