Lawrence school administrators want to put improvements to football fields at the two high schools on the front burner.
"We'd like to get moving. I think everybody would like to get started as soon as possible," said Tom Bracciano, the district's division director of operations and facility planning.
At their 7 p.m. Monday meeting, board members as part of the consent agenda will be asked to approve an agreement with Johnson Controls Inc. for the engineering firm to audit a list of proposed athletic and elementary school projects.
The audit is part of a financing tool called performance contracting, which allows governments to pay for projects during several years if they save on energy and water, installing artificial turf and special lights. Administrators are asking for one audit on the football athletic facilities to be completed within 30 days.
Administrators estimate it will cost $2.8 million to install lights, 4,000-seat bleachers, artificial turf and restrooms at the track facilities at Lawrence and Free State high schools. The audit will provide a clearer cost estimate.
"It's a big project. We're trying to chunk off some of the more timely projects while we have a window for construction," Superintendent Randy Weseman said.
A second audit on all other proposed athletic and elementary school projects would take up to 120 days. The audit will cost the district about $60,000, and if board members move forward with construction that will fall into the overall cost.
Administrators have presented performance contracting as a key part of their plan to attack an $11 million backlog of elementary school projects and to improve outdoor athletic facilities, both without a bond issue or tax increase. For the next few years, each high school could play home football games on campus, possibly until a district facility is built, which is the third phase of the plan.
Weseman said it was possible - depending on the construction timetable - the district could rent Haskell Stadium for home football games for part of the season at $5,000 per game until the stadiums were finished. LHS has played home games at Haskell for decades.
The district also would have to develop a plan for having football games at each campus, especially at LHS because it is near the Centennial Neighborhood and parking is limited.
Plans to improve baseball, softball and soccer fields and tennis courts at each school are also in the works. Proponents have mentioned the need for improvements, especially to keep LHS athletes from having to drive to other fields after school.
"It's going to be a great addition especially for Lawrence High being able to have facility improvements on site where our students don't have to leave campus to go and attend practices," said LHS Athletic Director Ron Commons.
Free State Athletic Director Mike Hill said a turf field at the school would also benefit soccer teams, the marching band and physical education classes.
"This is something that's been very much needed," Hill said.