POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - On September 15, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees approved a 5-year facilities plan recommended by PCSD 25’s Outdoor Athletics Facilities committee. The proposal approved by the Board of Trustees is a big-picture, committee-led project designed to address PCSD 25 facilities with a bold, clear vision for the future.
The Outdoor Athletic Committee began meeting in the fall of 2019 to address PCSD 25’s athletic facilities needs and develop a 5-year plan. The committee consists of District athletic directors, administrators, city and county facility partners and parents. The committee’s “Why” is to promote and support equitable opportunities for athletics/activities while recognizing the profound ability for athletics to build relationships, cultivate pride and purpose, and bring the community together.
The committee was responsible for reviewing the District’s current facilities and assessing ongoing or emergent needs as they relate to the District’s current Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Through this process, it came to light that PCSD 25 is the only local district that maintains middle school track facilities. Other districts across the state maintain practice cinder or grass tracks for their middle school programs and utilize their high school tracks for competitions. The committee identified a significant opportunity to reallocate funds initially set aside by CIP to replace the district’s middle school tracks and, instead, invest those funds into the district’s three high school outdoor facilities, including the addition of three turf fields.
In essence, the question, “How can we maximize PCSD 25 facilities funding to support multiple sports/activities and leverage the most opportunities for student athletes, as well as the broader community?” framed every step of the process.
Facing the many academic and athletic challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, which included the loss of the district’s access to Holt Arena for varsity football games, further informed the committee’s amended recommendation to the Board. Priorities had to be shifted to meet our emergent need to host athletic events and other school-sponsored activities utilizing our own district facilities. Rather than focus on facility deficiencies, instead, rival schools rallied together to creatively solve logistical challenges and make it all function while continuing to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols. Some of those creative solutions included: utilizing Coke wagons as press boxes, tables as ticket booths, truck tailgates as broadcasting platforms and scissor-lifts for game-filming, food trucks as concessions; and finally, welcoming Pocatello High School to Iron Horse Stadium to utilize as its home field due to its lack of a varsity facility.
Through this process, it became very clear that preserving the athletic and extracurricular experiences of the young people we serve must continue to be a priority. In the end, the committee adjusted its priority recommendations because of the emergent need for PCSD 25 teams to be able to host events. Thus, the final recommendation proposed a two-year postponement on the installation of turf in order to focus efforts on completing three fully functional high school facilities, each capable of hosting events. Each high school’s current facilities has different needs to meet the goal to offer three comprehensive outdoor venues. Completing these venues will include adding facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms, press boxes, concessions, bleachers and stadium lights.
The amended proposal approved by the Board includes the following, phased over five years:
Year 1 and Year 2 (beginning spring/summer 2021)
$1 M PHS Concession/restroom, locker room, bleachers, lights – located at Hawthorne Middle School
$300,000 CHS concession/restroom (locker room) – located at Century High School
$300,000 HHS concession/restroom/press box (locker room) – located at Iron Horse Stadium
$600,000 Transition middle school tracks to grass, maintain two-lane walking path (3)
Year 3 (approximate costs) – $750,000 – High school turf field
Year 4 – $750,000 – High school turf field
Year 6 – $750,000 – High school turf field
In this plan, the district’s middle school tracks will be transitioned from asphalt to grass for use as practice facilities. The outer two lanes of each track will remain asphalt for use as a walking path by the community. Middle school competitive track and field meets will be hosted at the high school venues. This will then accommodate three additional regulation soccer fields for district and community use.
The next step in the process is to submit the Board-approved recommendations to the PCSD 25’s Capital Improvement Program committee. The CIP committee begins meeting in November is responsible for determining the timeline for each outdoor facilities project as it fits within the scope of other district projects and priorities. Final budgets will be set individually through the bidding process. Further details will be released once the CIP process is finalized in December.
The five-year project is estimated to cost $5 M. There is currently $2.1 M allocated in CIP projects toward the middle school track improvements. The committee has requested that existing (unspent) CIP funding be reallocated toward these new priorities, leaving a balance of $2.9 M. The difference will be absorbed through this year’s CIP funding over the next five years, which is a combination of facilities funding that is provided by the state and monies from the 10-year school plant facilities levy. Additional funding sources, including corporate sponsorships are currently being explored.
The five-year phased project is an investment in PCSD 25’s future, providing equity of opportunity and equity of facilities not only between schools in town but across the state. Upgrading the district’s facilities is something the community has been asking for and is the community’s taxes/school plant facilities funding at work. The CIP funds are set aside and readily available to invest in this phased project. Adding turf broadens usage and efficiency of current facilities while leveraging the use of existing assets, including lights, scoreboards, bleachers, etc. Furthermore, adding turf facilities will enhance the ability to generate new revenue to sustain athletics/activities programs. There is also the opportunity for community rentals. We are also exploring the potential to add portable, seasonal dome field houses to provide year-round, multi-sport opportunities for student athletes and the community.