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PW-S board backs $8 million athletic field plan PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 18:33

Nod from school officials clears way for foundation to begin fundraising for artificial turf surfaces, other improvements

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved a conceptual design for a $7 to $8 million overhaul of the high school outdoor athletic facilities that would include new artificial turf football and baseball fields and an eight-lane running track.
    The plan also calls for a new concession stand with restrooms and team rooms as well as new home-team bleachers and a press box.
    Preliminary approval of the plan gives the PWSSD Foundation, a recently formed nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for the school district, a design to pitch to potential donors.
    With no money for outdoor athletic facilities included in the $49.4 million referendum approved by voters in 2015, school officials are relying heavily on the foundation to raise money for the field improvements and are willing to award naming rights to significant donors. The board has not formally discussed whether it is willing to earmark district money for the project if needed.
    “Yes, we’ll be looking for some major gift investments with possible naming rights, but ultimately we’ll be looking for everyone to chip in, maybe $100 or $1,000,” Jennifer Clearwater, president of the foundation, told the board.
    Officials said the timeline for the project will depend on the success of the fundraising effort, but when asked in an interview  if it’s conceivable to break ground on the project within five years, Supt. Michael Weber said, “I certainly hope so. I’m hopeful the project could be completed in five years.”
    The plan approved by the board this week is a departure from an earlier iteration that called for the football and baseball fields to be flipped so that the football field would be moved to the north end of the outdoor athletic area at the base of the hill just west of the high school and the baseball fields moved to the current site of the football field to the south. Point of Beginning, the Stevens Point landscape architecture firm hired by the district to design the new athletic facilities, suggested the change to accommodate a wider running track around the football field.
    But in response to public concerns about moving the football field from its familiar location, the district asked Point of Beginning to rethink the design. The result is a plan to keep the football field with an eight-lane track encircling it at its current location with the baseball fields and multi-use area to the north.
    Among the advantages of the current plan is that football field lights upgraded in 2003 will not have to be replaced and the project can be completed in stages.
    The first stage, estimated to cost between $5 and $6 million, would include the football field, track, home bleachers, press box and a concession stand near its current location between the football and baseball fields. In addition to bathrooms, the concession stand would have team rooms. Currently Port football teams use a maintenance shed near the field before games and at halftime. Visiting teams have no designated facility.
    The second stage, estimated to cost $2 million, would be the baseball fields and multiuse area.
    Key to the plan, and a major driver of the cost, is the installation of artificial turf that would allow the fields to be used far more heavily, especially in the inclement weather that often plagues the spring sports seasons. Officials envision outdoor facilities that because of their durability would be used not only by sports teams but by phy-ed classes and community organizations, and could help encourage the growth of sports new to the area like lacrosse.
    “In spring when everything is so wet, oh my gosh, our students and our athletes will have such an advantage,” Weber said. “Our physical education program would blossom with this arrangement.”
    Director of Business Services Jim Froemming characterized the plan as a good compromise between function and cost.
    “It’s not perfect, but it meets our needs and is a project people are really excited about,” he said. “The foundation thought (that the cost) was reasonable and a very attainable goal.”
    Clearwater said the time is right to approach potential donors.
    “A lot of companies have been sitting on their resources waiting to see if the other shoe drops,” she said. “But now that the economy has bounced back, it’s a really good time for us.”
    The PWSSD Foundation is independent of the district, although several school officials are involved in the organization. Froemming is a voting member of group, and Weber and School Board member Brenda Fritsch are ex officio members who cannot vote.
    In addition to Clearwater, a Port High graduate and professional fundraiser who is the director of philanthropy at Discovery World in Milwaukee, other foundation members are Tom Ross, a Port High alumnus and insurance broker for Ansay and Associates, and Sheri Bunyan, an assistant professor of physical therapy at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon who was an organizer of a group that supported the 2015 referendum and whose husband John is a phy-ed teacher and Port High varsity football coach.
    In response to a slip from a School Board member who referred to the PWSSD Foundation as the “education foundation,” officials pointed out there are two separate foundations working to benefit the district.
    The long-established Community Education Foundation of Port Washington-Saukville Inc. raises and manages millions of dollars of scholarship funds awarded to Port High students and graduates and gives educational grants to teachers for programs not covered by school budgets.
    The PWSSD Foundation was formed to raise money for district projects like the outdoor athletic facility overhaul.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 18:34