Survey says: School district’s athletic facilities do not measure up
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — A community survey conducted by the Marshfield School District revealed that a majority of residents do not feel the district’s athletic facilities compare favorably to other similarly sized schools. Most respondents also thought any proposed facility upgrades should be funded by a combination of district and private funds.
The survey, which focused on Marshfield High School and Marshfield Middle School, was conducted late last year and is helping to inform an ad hoc committee that was established to review the state of the district’s facilities. The district first surveyed a group of about 50 frequent users of local school athletic facilities, whose responses were used in deciding the questions that would later be posed to the community, said Marshfield School District’s Director of Business Services Pat Saucerman.
Over 1,000 people participated in the community survey, and over 60 percent said that the outdoor facilities at Marshfield High School are not in “adequate condition.” However, close to 70 percent of those surveyed said they believed the indoor facilities at Marshfield High School are “in adequate condition.” About 65 percent of respondents said Marshfield’s indoor and outdoor facilities do not measure up to “other schools similar in size.”
A minority of respondents felt that any upgrades should be funded by solely the district or solely private fundraising, while most favored combining public and private funding.
When asked what improvements needed to be made to athletic facilities at Marshfield High School and Marshfield Middle School, community respondents put the middle school’s running track at the top of the list. 60 percent of those surveyed said the track needed an upgrade. Second on the priority list were outdoor practice fields, followed by parking accommodations, and then a larger fitness and weight room.
The group of the frequent users, which included physical education teachers and coaches, named Beell Stadium when asked about the biggest “shortages/problems with existing facilities.”
Rettler Corporation, a Stevens Point-based landscape architecture firm, was paid $8,450 by the district to assist in the analysis of local athletic facilities and develop an action plan based on the information gathered.
“They give us guidance, and they provide sort of that feedback loop. So as we explore different options, … they help us with the analysis. They help us understand the process, how it unfolds to ultimately get to some type of a needs list so that we’re able to best understand our priorities,” Saucerman said.
The ad hoc committee, composed of community members, district administration and board members, and teachers, has toured several other schools — many of which Rettler has worked with to complete facility upgrades — to see options that could be implemented in Marshfield.
“A lot of it was very eye-opening, I think, for the committee members in general just because you realize once you see these facilities, the types of things that we might want to have in our own facility one day,” Saucerman said. “I think we’d like to model after some of the things we have seen on those tours.”
The committee also toured Marshfield’s high school, middle school, and Madison Elementary — due to its proximity to the high school — to get an in-depth understanding of where needs exist.
Rettler will come back to the full school board in the next “month or two,” Saucerman said, with some concepts of what could be done.
“My hope would be that the March, maybe April time frame, we’d be able to wrap this up basically and have the school board prepared to consider the options and take action accordingly,” Saucerman said.
While Rettler could be the project manager for any eventual construction that is done, Saucerman said that any project would be competitively bid.
The scope and cost of a potential project is something the board will have to weigh. Saucerman said to this point there has not been discussion about tying possible athletic facility upgrades in with a potential referendum. The district will receive $2.5 million for its operations budget from the referendum for the 2016-17 school year, the last year of the current referendum, Saucerman said.
A proposal to approve a new referendum, which would start in 2017-18, could appear on the November 2016 election ballot.