School board considers new high school gym floor

Steve Stein

District 709 may be replacing the water-damaged, aging floor in the main gym at Morton High School sooner rather than later.

Superintendent Roger Kilpatrick told School Board members Tuesday he recommends replacing the floor as early as spring, so the job can be completed in time for graduation ceremonies.

The floor in the Potterdome sustained significant water damage several weeks ago after a water pipe burst in a locker room. Temporary repairs were made to keep the floor playable for the basketball season.

Kilpatrick said it would cost approximately $30,000 to repair the floor, which would include replacing some of the water-damaged areas outside the playing surface.

"The repairs would include what I would call deep sanding that would effectively end the life of the floor," he said.

The price tag to replace the entire floor is about $285,000. Approximately $150,000 of that cost is to remove the existing floor and asbestos.

Replacing the floor has been on the district's radar for several years, and it was scheduled to be done in the next few years. District officials believe the floor dates to 1956, the year the school opened.

Kilpatrick was given the go-ahead by board members to seek bids for replacing the floor and removing asbestos.

"We need to do that. The floor has gotten worse and worse and worse," said board member Nancy Overcash. Her comment was echoed by board member Doug Riddle.

Board member Noah Menold said he struggles with spending $300,000 to replace a gym floor given the district's upcoming budget shortfalls, but board member Clint Heinold said now would be an opportune time to do the project.

"I'm in the construction business. People are looking for work, so the district should get very competitive bids," Heinold said.

The new floor would be elevated, providing protection from the high water table underneath it.

In other news:

- Kilpatrick gave board members a tentative timeline for approving a districtwide construction/renovation plan and scheduling a possible referendum to pay for the work.

The results of a community survey should be available by early March. The plan would be approved by the board in May and communicated to residents in June. The referendum decision would be made in August.

- Board members heard a report on creating a self-sustaining summer school at the high school for students who had failed classes. Students from outside the district could attend the classes.