Proposal made to get tracks in shape

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE -- They listened.

But no one on the Bullitt County Public School Board took off running to embrace a proposal that would bring the three high school tracks up to par with surrounding counties.

After a story in The Pioneer News this spring outlined the inability of the three high schools to host tract meets due to the condition of their facilities, businessman Jim Rice took notice.

As a partner in Flynn Brothers Construction and as a product of the Bullitt County Public School System, Rice was a bit ashamed.

After talking with superintendent Keith Davis, Rice's firm put together a proposal. In the packet were estimates on getting the tracks back to acceptable conditions and there were also some added goodies, such as rubberized surfaces and adding lanes.

In looking at each of the three high schools, Rice said needs were different. One thing in common, however, was the difficulty to bring the schools into a position where field events could be held.

The most cost effective project would be to seal and striping of the lanes. Each school would run about $13,000.

To add a rubberized surface to each and to stripe the lanes, each school would be around $28,000. If a color was added to the surface, that would add about $14,000 to each school.

The biggest expense would come if two additional lanes are constructed. The work would cost between $77,000 and $85,000. Plus, rubberizing and striping each would add between $30,000 and $52,000, depending on the color.

"All three would look great," said Rice.

Another option would be to construct one large facility that all three high schools could share.

In visiting other schools, Rice said there are very nice facilities.

At the end of the day, Davis said it would take $1 million to do the needed repairs on the tracks. But the "pot" of money is only so large.

If you did one facility, Davis asked where would it be constructed and what would the reaction to from the rest of the county?

The work could be done with construction funds; however, the facility plan calls for either major renovations or new Maryville and Mount Washington elementary schools.

Traditionally, facility improvements for athletic programs have been financed by the local schools.

The lone exception is the added gym space being included in all three college and career readiness additions at the high schools.

While complimenting the district on its rise in test scores, Rice said that athletics also plays a major role in education.

Having nice facilities could be a recruitment tool for parents who are looking to move to a new community, said Rice.

"It's an investment," said Rice. "It's part of your advertising."

In traveling the state, Davis said it does make him jealous to see some of the facilities.

At the same time, Davis said the board must look at where the $1 million would come from.

Board chairman Tim Wiseheart, who had a son who ran cross country and track, admitted that the facilities are pretty bad.

Rice understood the money issues but said that development by Flynn Brothers has been responsible for bringing in a lot of jobs and a lot of tax revenue for the school district.

"It's worth looking at," Rice said of the proposal.

Each of the athletic directors would welcome any improvements for their track facilities.

"With all three county schools having so much success in track the past few years, I think that it is great that the board is willing to hear proposals like this," said Ryan Bringhurst, the AD at North Bullitt. "All of the students at North Bullitt use our track facility in some way through PE classes, JROTC or athletics. I think improving the facility would not only benefit our student body as a whole, but would be a much needed facelift to a very visible part of our campus."

At Bullitt East, AD Troy Barr echoed those sentiments.

"The accomplishments of the track athletes in our county are well noted," said Barr. "The fact that all three high schools lack a safe facility to practice on or host a meet has been noted as well.

"Providing a safe facility for the athletes who bring so much positive press to our community is the least we can do," added Barr.

Bullitt Central AD Mike Gossett said schools in surrounding counties have rubberized track facilities.

"We can't host a track meet on our track and our track serves the fitness needs of the entire Shepherdsville community," said Gossett.

Bringhurst said that if the board would decide to repair the three facilities or it they chose to look at a shared facility, he was sure the three athletic directors would work together to make sure all the students benefit from any improvements made.

The board took no official action on the proposal.