District Prioritizes Facility Upgrades Based on Recommendations

Bus Barn Funding Approved; Turf Fields and Auxiliary Gym Renovations on Back Burner



The Shawnee Heights foundation brought Jim Collagen a consultant who works with school foundations in November of 2013 to give an outside opinion on the district’s outward and inner appearance, starting an initiative to boost the appearance of the district to the outside world.

“Shawnee Heights is a 21st-century district without a town; there is no Shawnee Heights, America,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Stessman said. “Shawnee Heights Road is main street, and when one drives down main street they don’t see 21st-century, they see the ‘70s.”

The LED signs purchased in 2015 began the upgrades, and in January, the board of education approved a spending package for a new bus barn. According to Dr. Stessman, the bus barn is a practical purchase due to new vehicles.

“The issues with the bus barn is that currently when we order new buses, we have them make the buses smaller than standard size because the barn is too narrow and we couldn’t fit the bigger buses in,” Dr. Stessman said. “So making it slightly bigger to house the bigger buses was another consideration.”

The district’s current buses are four seats shy of the standard size with the same price tags as the standard size.

“The building has the same use; however, bus drivers have to do monthly trainings and (now) we have a training room that will actually hold all the drivers,” Dr. Stessman said, referring to the new transportation building that was constructed this year next to the bus barn. ”We also made it a little bit bigger than what we had and closed down the shop in Berryton and move all the shop equipment up here. Now all of our guys have a centralized location.”

The district saved for five years to finance the new building at a cost of an even $1 million.

With the actions of bringing the district’s appearance into the 21st century. The question was raised by head basketball coach Mr. Steve Wallace as to why the high school has only one regulation sized gym or the football field having grass instead of turf.

“The north gym isn’t usable for boys practice’s so we have to go late,” Wallace said, “So that cuts into time to study, time to eat, and time to hang with family.”

Currently on home basketball nights, at least two sub-varsity games are played at the middle school since the north gym is not regulation size for high school games.

“Two teams could be practicing at coinciding times,” Wallace said. “In an environment that is similar to the condition we will actually play in.”

“When we considered all the projects that we do, we prioritize them on a district-wide basis,” Dr. Stessman said. “And I understand that it’s somewhat inconvenient, but it doesn’t prevent anybody from playing basketball, it doesn’t prevent anybody having an opportunity that they currently don’t have now, and if we expanded the gym it wouldn’t increase the opportunity.”

A turf football field would add a modern look to the appearance and it would also change the location of the scoreboard to the other side of the field giving an opportunity to add signage on the back of the scoreboard to face the northwing parking lot.

“Turf will probably make the final list here in a couple of years but again we can turf that and it’ll cost between $600,000 an $800,000,” Dr. Stessman said “And we won’t have anymore kids playing football than we do now and it won’t save us any money long term. Everybody always talks about saving money on water and maintenance and it really doesn’t. What it does do is allow you to use it more often and it would look nicer.”

The athletic department could use the turf field to host middle school on up to varsity games.

“We could make that our main field for all sports, whether its hitting grounders in the spring for softball,” Head football coach, Jason Swift said. “As a teacher and as a coach, I would probably use it 300 days a year.”

Turf while expensive, is designed to last and provides multiple uses to both the P.E and athletic departments.

“If you look at Hummer or Seaman they’ve used theirs for 10 to 12 years and I think Hummer went 12 year before it was redone,” Swift said.

A turf field would provide more uses than just football games and practices, the P.E department can utilize a turf field for conditioning reasons and for outdoor games.

“From a teachers standpoint it would allows us to use it throughout the year with our classes we can play games out on the turf be it soccer, baseball, football along with conditioning and footwork drills,” Swift said. “Throughout the summer we would be able to utilize the field everyday to be able to do drills we can’t do on the track.”

“I love Shawnee Heights, and one of the best way to promote Shawnee Heights I feel is showcasing how great of a campus we have,” Swift said. “And I think field turf and having Shawnee Heights competing at Shawnee Heights high school would show how great we are and I’m always supportive of Dr. Stessman, I always think Dr. Stessman has a great vision for Shawnee Heights.”