HAMILTON — Further facility upgrades are underway at Hamilton Community Schools.
On Monday, the school board authorized Superintendent Anthony Cassel to go ahead and sign a contract with Byrne and Jones to upgrade the district’s athletics facilities.
“To the best of our knowledge, 2005, we believe, was the last time our track was hit,” Cassel said.
“It would have been a rubber coating which is supposed to be done every four to five years and hasn’t been done for 17 years.”
Cassel said the district is considering installing a polyurethane track, which is different from spray-coated asphalt. It would include a matte black surface with a structural spray surface. Structural spray is replaced every seven to eight years, Cassel said.
By comparison, a rubber spray surface has a lifespan of four to five years, Cassel added.
Cassel said the track would have blue structural spray, representing the color of the Hamilton Marines.
Cassel said the work to mill and install the siding cost $219,000. The track surface rubber coating and structural spray cost $294,000 and an additional $22,000 for the blue color.
“It’s going to give us a lead that’s going to last a long time,” Cassel said.
He noted that the district has hosted several large gatherings.
“We want to keep doing that,” he added.
Cassel said Lakewood Park Christian School also uses the Hamilton track for practice.
Cassel said the project would be funded primarily from the rainy day fund.
“We can use it for ground improvement and it’s definitely a necessary ground improvement,” Cassel added.
Work will take place next summer and into the fall, the council said.
In other business on Monday:
• Council held a public hearing on the proposed budget for 2023, which totals $8.8 million. It includes: $2.17 million in the referendum fund; $875,000 in the rainy day fund; $273,524 to the debt service fund; $3.15 million in the education fund; and $2.31 million in the operating fund.
Cassel said the projected tax rate is still estimated to be higher than the one at which it is ultimately set.
“For example, last year our projected rate was initially $1.16 (per $100 of assessment). It ended up being 83 cents. The budget adopted was $7.3 million last year. This year our projected rate is $1.08, so that’s actually eight cents lower than our projected rate last year. But our budget is $8.8 million…and most of it is actually a cash balance. This is not a tax increase,” Cassel said.
Cassel said the budget includes capital projects “which are long overdue for our buildings.”
Cassel said the district will use its cash balance to support some of those expenses.
In addition to athletics facility improvements, other capital projects include replacing bleachers in the rear gymnasium, repairing sidewalks, replacing the HVAC system in the kitchen, remodeling and replacing doors and updating washrooms and changing rooms, council heard.
“When you see $8.8 million, an increase of $1.5 million, a lot of it is projects coming out of cash balance or a rainy day for the building,” Cassel said.
“We actually expect a small reduction in the rate this year from last year’s rate,” Cassel added.
“We hope to have it at 80 cents or a little below.”
Cassel noted that the district’s new tennis courts were $78,000 under budget, leaving $78,000 in the rainy day fund the district had planned to use.
Council will adopt the budget in October.
• The board approved a social studies trip to Washington, DC during the 2023 fall vacation for seventh and eighth graders. The trip will include a stop in Gettysburg as well as visits to the National Cathedral, Mount Vernon, Arlington, the city of the Pentagon, the United States Capitol, monuments and memorials, and museums. The board also approved fundraising for the trip, which will cost $791 per student.
The board also approved the addition of three new programs to the district. A gymnastics program for middle school girls will begin this school year. More than 20 students have expressed interest, Cassel said.
A high school fishing club through the Student Anglers Federation will be offered. Ten students have expressed interest, Cassel added. Students pay a one-time $25 fee and there is no cost to the school, the board heard.
The board also approved the teaching of archery as part of the college’s physical education program through the national school archery program. There’s a start-up cost of around $3,600, with all but $500 covered by grant opportunities, Cassel said. The scheme also allows the school to have an archery club, the board heard.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Cassel said.
• Cassel reported that student enrollment continues to increase. This year’s average daily student membership was on Friday, showing enrollment of 371 students. That’s an increase of 90 students from four years ago, Cassel said.
• On staffing, the board approved the hiring of bus drivers Dawn Robinett and Rachael Martin and assistant varsity women’s basketball coach Justin McKnight.
The board has accepted the resignation of assistant varsity softball coach Brad Hennessey.