The new high school, presently named Westmoreland High School draws closer and closer to completion. The auditorium, which had been the subject of many a nervous discussion, is now completely settled, a full part of the school. However, the matter of the athletic fields has now come into the fore. The goal at this point, according to Superintendent Dr. Michael Perry, is to get as much done as possible via Branch Builds and the remaining contingency money, a large portion of which was spent covering the School Board’s half of the expenses for the auditorium.

“We’re trying to get as much as we can out of the rest of the money left in the contingency,” he explained to the board at last week’s monthly meeting. “As well as get Branch Builds to do as much as they can before they leave the sight.”

The present tasks needed for the field to be complete are as follows:

- The football field needs to be regraded to a level of completion, with a crown in the middle of the field, running north to south.

- An irrigation system for the field also has to be designed, and an 8-lane rubberized track installed. 

- Stadium lighting is also to be provided, as bleachers will be installed in the future, along with a security fence, equipment shed, and scoreboard, as well as an access drive to the field for emergency vehicles.

“Every one of these items is one we believe we can get through the $599,000 and change left in the contingency,” Dr. Perry continued. “We believe, based on the figures that we’ve been given, that we can get all of this. We want to get the fields graded out at the very least.”

The original price tag for those items came out to $700,000 on the bid documents. Seeing as the contingency is sitting just shy of $600,000, Dr. Perry and the School Board need to draw the extra hundred grand from somewhere, such as the fund balance.

“We believe we should get this done,” he explained, “because if we don’t, I’m afraid of what’s going to happen down the road.”

A number of items were not on the above list, but rather were intended to be installed at a later date, such as the bleachers. This included the press box, along with the concession stand and restrooms are also to be found on the list. Power and water conduits would also have to be pulled to the locations where these would ultimately be installed.

“They’re going to pull the pipes and lines to those locations, and it shouldn’t cost all that much,” the Superintendent assured. “But as much as I would love to, I don’t think we can afford to get the actual items installed just yet.”

Until the bleachers are installed, the field will not be used for actual sporting events, though it can still be used as a practice field. It also remains to be seen how the School Board will pay for the expenses incurred with all of the various items they will have to order up since they selected a new name for the school rather than carry the old name over.

“We can’t wait too long after everything else is done though,” Dr. Perry finished, “because the longer we wait, the more expensive this will get.”

Sandra Ramsay chimed in afterwards, suggesting the use of fundraisers to help with the situation, but also stressed that anything Branch Builds can do to complete the athletic field needs to be addressed.

“How many high schools do you know of where the kids can’t use the athletic fields?” she asked the rest of the board, “because there isn’t one. We’ve come too far for this, and I don’t think we should just sit and wait for the county to find money.”

“We’re looking,” Dr. Perry replied. “This was just where we stand today.”

The new school’s completion date of February next year remains intact.