MANSFIELD -- The Mansfield City Schools board of education approved two contracts Tuesday for lighting and stadium renovation projects at Arlin Field.
“Over the last few years, we've noticed going to the football games and other events, we're starting to have some safety issues. We've not renovated the stadium since the mid 1980s," said Robert Booth, facilities manager for the district. "So over the last few years we've saved money in the PI (district permanent improvement funds) to put towards the project, it's gotten to a point now where we have to do something,”
The board approved a $718,278 contract with Dynamix Energy Services to repair and restore the concrete surfaces on both the home and visitor sides of the stadium.
Dynamix will remove, repaint and reinstall metal handrails and fixtures; use a high water pressure system to clean and remove any loose coatings off of the top and undersides of the stadium; repair and seal the concrete; inspect and secure expansion joints; coat the concrete with a corrosion inhibitor and waterproof sealant and upgrade or repair the drainage pipes under the stadium.
All the work comes with a 10-year warranty.
The district will also hire Plug Smart, an Ohio-based energy company, to replace the lighting at Arlin Field and the high school. Plug Smart will upgrade all the lights at the high school to LED, including in the auditorium and gym.
Plug Smart will demolish the six existing light poles and install a new LED 4-pole system while reusing the existing electric service, electrical panel and underground wire for installation. The project will come with a 25-year warranty on materials and labor. The estimated cost is between $76,301 and $80,730.
Upgrading the stadium lighting to LED would improve the quality of potential television broadcasts. It would also illuminate the practice field so it could be used for evening practice.
Switching the lighting on the field will not deliver significant cost or energy savings, but Booth says it's a necessary safety upgrade.
“I know a few of you will remember, it's not been that long ago, we had one of the light poles snap. It was above the press box,” Booth said. “The other poles around there have not been changed. They’re the same poles from the 40s and they've been inspected and they're telling us they need to be changed out.”
Plug Smart's work at the high school will be more costly, but also result in significant cost savings for the district.
The estimated cost of switching all lighting at the high school to LED ranges between $415,133 and $453,558, but a preliminary report for Plug Smart states that the investment would pay off in energy savings in 5.7 to 6.2 years. Meanwhile, if the district chose not to upgrade its utilities at the high school, it would cost an extra $1.07 million in utility bills and an extra $320,000 for operations and maintenance over the next 15 years.
According to Booth, switching the building’s lighting to LED will reduce overall lighting energy use by 63 percent, saving the district $72,854 annually in energy costs.
Treasurer Tacy Courtright said the district has about $550,000 set aside for improvements to the stadium and that grant funding may be available to help with the lighting project.
The board also approved the current five-year forecast as prepared by Courtright. Courtright said the district is in fairly good shape financially, despite extra costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtright added that the district is faring better than some other local districts after Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statewide cut to Ohio school district funding.
“Back in April, the governor cut us by about half a million dollars, thankfully our district didn’t feel the impact of that as severely as some other districts but we do have some federal dollars that support our students based on the (percentage) of students on free and reduced lunches in our district.”
A copy of the five-year forecast was not available at the time of publication.
The board also heard a COVID-19 safety report from Sandy Hovest and Lauren Yeagle of Resource Solutions Associates, a consulting firm hired by the district.
Hovest and Yeagle said students are continuing to follow five key health guidelines -- daily health assessments, wearing face coverings, practicing hand hygiene, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting -- to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Students or staff who test positive are isolated and typically able to return to school 10 days after diagnosis, according to the guidelines from Richland Public Health.
Hovest and Yeagle also meet weekly with school nurses and regularly with the athletics department. They also regularly visit the buildings to observe and monitor health and safety protocols.
Staff have been encouraged to limit small group work and in-person meetings, reduce capacity at staff lunch rooms and work areas and enforce six foot distancing practices.
Students and staff are encouraged to do their part outside of school to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting in-person contact to a “social bubble,” which might include household family members and a limited number of non-household members who agree to practice safety precautions at work and home and only interact with each other.
“You need to practice mitigation outside of school as diligently as you do in school,” Yeagle said.
Director of Student Programs Holly Christie and Sherman Elementary Principal Amy Bradley gave a brief report about the work being done with a Family Engagement Grant that the district received.
The school will be sending a survey to parents asking them to identify ways to support students academically and emotionally. A team from Sherman also partnered with Gorman-Rupp and State Support Team Region 7 to send take home math and literacy bags for every student.
The board also approved:
-- The board also approved a $10,000 contract with BS Media Productions to provide liestreams for all home football, varsity basketball and select volleyball, soccer and wrestling matches for the district during the 2020-2021 school year.
Each varsity sport live stream will include commentators, score graphics and advertising opportunities. The games will be live streamed on The OH.Report’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and any social media outlet chosen by the district.
If the State of Ohio mandates that sports cannot be played at any point during the school year, BS Media will pro-rate the contract and “roll over” services that cannot be provided the following school year. The district may also have the option to trade unfulfilled sports live streams for feature video stories on student athletes, coaches and teams.
-- The purchase of a partially constructed tiny house for the high school’s Career Technical Education building trades program. Students in the program were originally contracted to construct the tiny house for Sean Adams, who later expressed a desire to sell it back to the district. The district will purchase the tiny house for $9,600. The building trades students will finish constructing the tiny house and the district will sell it. Nikia Fletcher, director of career tech, said the completed tiny house will likely sell for between $25,000 and $30,000 -- possibly generating a small profit for the district after the cost of materials.
-- A $91,020 grant for mobile hotspots from the Richland County Board of Commissioners. The grant comes from coronavirus relief (CARES) funds.
-- The board also approved a resolution to adopt an employment agreement with Connie Burrows, a former intervention specialist who was dismissed by the board late last year for behavior the district said was insubordination and abandonment of her job.
Burrows was hired as an intervention specialist in 2007.
A notice of pre-disciplinary meeting from Burrows’ personnel file lists several dates in which Burrows allegedly either left work early or did not come in at all.
"You were directed to work Friday Nov. 15, 2019. You failed to report," wrote Director of Personnel Mark Wilcheck. "...This constitutes repeated insubordination and abandonment of your job."
Attorney Bob Sauter stated earlier this year that Burrows didn’t report to work because she was “clearly ill” but that she also had assumed a new position with the high school.
-- The board also passed a resolution accepting the outcome of a hearing regarding former district employee Brandon Hensley, who was also fired at a December 2019 school board meeting. Hensley requested a hearing following his termination; however, referee James Dietz sided with the district.
The board voted to formally accept and adopt Dietz’s report and recommendation, “as well as terminating any and all employment contracts between Brandon Hensley and the board pursuant to in and in accordance with Ohio Revised Code section 3319.16.”
Hensley’s termination came after he allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a fellow employee while at school.