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Cambridge City Schools News Article

Board Approves Moving Forward on Construction Projects

The Cambridge City School District is moving forward with three significant construction projects that will positively impact every student and employee in the school district, as well as the community, and will not negatively impact the general fund.

“Unfortunately, as a community and a school district we have spent the last two years responding to the consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Dan Coffman said. “While many of those consequences are bad and some tragic, the Federal government made available financial relief funds which we are utilizing to benefit our students.”

An artificial playing surface at McFarland Stadium, improvements to the HVAC systems in all the district’s buildings, and the construction of a new transportation facility, are three projects that are being aided by the one-time ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds and Permanent Improvement funds.

At the Board of Education meeting Thursday, the board approved a resolution giving the administration the authority to enter into a contract with AstroTurf Corporation to install an artificial surface at McFarland Stadium. The recommendation came after reviewing solutions from multiple vendors.

According to Business Manager Dave Caldwell, the project should be completed by the end of June and be available for use when fall sports begin in August.

However, the field use will not be limited to the district’s football and soccer teams as the new surface will increase the ability to use the field no matter what the season.

“When you look at usability, this opens up the ability for more people to utilize the field all year round,” Caldwell said. “We can have softball and baseball use it. The band will be able to use it for practices, youth leagues can use it. We can have gym classes out there too. It gives us the ability to use it 12 months per year and takes away the weather element when there is challenging weather.”
In fact, the school district will encourage use by community organizations and leagues.

“We want to put as much use on it as possible,” Caldwell said. “The life expectancy does not go down based on usage. It’s going to last 10 years whether its used one day per week or seven days per week. We are going to encourage the community and school programs to use it.”

While the schools will have priority, there will be ample opportunity for community organizations to use the field.
In addition to increased usage, the turf also provides a level of safety for participants as the artificial surface absorbs energy on impact making it less likely for athletes to suffer concussions if their heads contact the surface.

The cost will be approximately $875,000 to turf the entire area inside the track at the stadium including taking out the asphalt area between the scoreboard and the endzone where the high jump pit used to be located for track and field events.

The turf will be two shades of green with the endzones for football being blue with the words Cambridge and Bobcats. A Bobcat Paw will be in the middle of the field. The surface will be lined for soccer as well as football.

While there will be some maintenance savings in terms of mowing, watering, and caring for the grass surface, there is still maintenance for the turf field,” Caldwell added. “There has to be somebody who grooms the field several times per year. We will have a gator and rake. We will also have the company (AstroTurf) come in annually to service the field with a magnet that pulls up anything that has been collected in the turf and redistributes the infill of the surface.

The cost of the turf will be paid for by ESSER funds and Permanent Improvement funds meaning no general fund or tax dollars generated through local levies will be used for the implementation of the artificial surface.

“Part of ESSER is promoting outdoor activities and distancing, those kinds of initiatives,” Caldwell said. “We submitted our plans and intentions to the appropriate authorities, and it has been approved.”

Transportation Facility
The board also approved a resolution giving the administration the ability to competitively bid for the construction of the new transportation facility to be built on the districts’ property on Wills Creek Valley Drive, near the district’s main campus.

The administration and board acknowledge that the current transportation facility is tired and well past its prime. The building, now used as the bus drivers lounge and office space, was once used as a locker room when the school district’s football teams played games at Pine Field prior to the opening of McFarland Stadium in 1959.

“It’s an old building and an inefficient building that is located in town when 75 percent of students are on a campus located outside of town,” Caldwell said referencing the almost two-mile drive from the current garage to the High, Middle and Intermediate schools. “Putting our transportation facility on our campus cuts down on the miles we drive by putting our bus fleet closer to our students.

The new facility will provide adequate space, improve the air quality, and be energy efficient.

The new building will include a wash bay, service bays, a mechanic shop, room for meetings and training sessions, office space and a drivers’ lounge that actually includes both men’s and women’s restrooms.

Behind the building, there will be diagonal parking for 22 buses plus space to park vans and other school vehicles. The district is conscious of the residential area the new facility will be located near and is planning to build and maintain an appealing facility.

“We want to be good neighbors in the community,” Caldwell said. “We want to make sure the facility fits in with the neighborhood and feels right because there are some residential areas around.”

To that end, the district intends to install nicer fencing around the front and side of the facility forgoing the standard chain link fencing that might otherwise be used.

At the July Board of Education meeting, the board selected V2Architects of Cambridge to complete schematic design, bidding, and construction administration of the transportation facility. V2Architects will consult with the district on the bidding process. They will create a bid package and bids will be solicited.

According to Caldwell, the plan is for the board to review bids and select a contractor in February. If a contractor is selected, they will be turned loose to construct the building.  From that point, it will take approximately eight months to complete construction allowing the building to be occupied by the end of 2022.

The majority of the project will be paid for by ESSER funds which have already been approved for this purpose.

HVAC Upgrades
The Board also approved a resolution giving the administration the authority to move forward with an upgrade to the HVAC system in the district. Basically, the district will be replacing the HVAC building automation and temperature control system.

“Every building gets touched by this upgrade,” Caldwell said. “It includes replacing the building automation and temperature control systems. Each building has multiples of each of those, but they are 20 years old and starting to fail.”

In addition, the original HVAC system is a proprietary system meaning the district must use the original company for repairs. Because there is no competition, the cost of repairs tends to be on the high side. The district will be entering into a contract for a non-proprietary solution through PlugSmart that will allow any vendor to service the system.

PlugSmart will manage the project and work with a company called Reliable who will provide the controls. The district also will begin replacing the 250-plus water-sourced heat pumps in the buildings with the first eight included in this project.

“The new controllers will allow us to set temperatures by zones in our buildings,” Caldwell pointed out. “So, if we have an organization or group utilizing a specific wing of the high school, we only have to heat or cool that wing and not the entire building.

“We can set the thermostat in each classroom so we can keep the temperature in a comfortable range,” Caldwell added. “If the temperature goes outside that range, we will get an alert that will tell us something has failed. The best part is, that the system can be controlled via a computer or remotely through an app on a mobile phone.”

The cost of $288,451 will be paid for through a combination of ESSER dollars and maybe some permanent improvement dollars but will be offset with a $200,000 energy efficiency grant from the U.S. Department of Energy administered through the Ohio Department of Development.

“ESSER encourages projects that promote energy efficiency and improvement to air quality,” Caldwell noted. “We will pay for the project and then get a $200,000 reimbursement.”

Between ESSER funding and the energy grant, the district will be able to make needed upgrades without negatively impacting the general fund.

The good news is that the projects benefit the students and employees of the district and at the same time free up money that can be used to benefit students and employees in other ways.

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518 South 8th Street Cambridge, OH 43725 Phone: (740) 439-5021 Fax: (740) 439-3796