COVINGTON — The Covington Board of Education returned to discussing plans on what do with the former Covington Elementary School site during their meeting Thursday evening, and they believe that they have a compromise available for the community.
Starting off, Roger Finfrock, owner of Finfrock Construction Co., Inc., gave a presentation proposing the donation of a ball field to go next to the existing softball field at that site. Finfrock Construction would complete the project at no cost to the district.
“All we’re asking is for some ground to put it on,” Finfrock said.
The field would be limited to use for baseball players who are 12 years old or younger, or for softball. Finfrock noted that the field would not be the appropriate size for high school baseball games. The total cost of the proposed ball field is estimated at $58,185, which Finfrock Construction would donate to the district by completing the work themselves along with some help from subcontractors.
Finfrock also proposed a maintenance agreement with the board in which Finfrock would agree to provide the following annual maintenance to the ball field: mowing and trimming; turf fertilization and weed control; vegetation control to skinned infield, warning track, and fence rows; annual overlay of skinned infield topdressings as needed; and clay additives to batters’ boxes and pitching rubber areas.
The agreement would also include the school district being responsible for the following items: providing property insurance to the facility, screen dragging field as necessary, chalk lining field for practice or games, and limiting access of the field to softball and young baseball players.
The plan would also include the school district taking complete ownership of the field in five years, when the district would take over maintaining the field.
“We just want to do it right and make it something we can be proud of,” Finfrock said. “I have a lot of support … Let me build the ball diamond.”
The board also thanked Finfrock for his proposed donation.
“We appreciate the generosity for our district and our kids,” board member Alex Reck said.
The rest of the plan for the former elementary school site would include two practice football fields that would be green space open to the community during the off-season and a practice field for the band. The existing softball diamond, the existing baseball diamond, and the existing playground will also remain where they are along with the trees surrounding the field space.
“It is a compromise on behalf of the community,” board member Mark Miller said.
Superintendent Gene Gooding noted that these plans for this site are the result of input from the community along with the needs they recognized as an attempt to address everyone’s concerns.
Gooding also said that the district is planning on paving the student parking lot at the high school in order to address parking concerns for the site. The student parking lot is currently gravel. An estimated cost on that project was not available on Thursday evening.
The board is finalizing these plans, but has not officially approved them.
Also during the board’s meeting, District Network Coordinator Levi Smith gave another presentation on the progress of the One-to-One Project at Covington schools. Smith presented the board with four estimated upfront cost options for continuing this project to give each student access to a Chromebook or tablet. The cost options would either allow for each class to have a Chromebook to pass out to students or for the students to pick up a Chromebook at the beginning of each day to carry around the entire day before returning it. Another option also included the idea of having high school students be able to take their Chromebooks home with them, use them for four years, and then possibly keep their Chromebooks after they graduate.
The Chromebooks would also be for students in the third grade and up. For kindergarten through second grade students, they would be provided use of iPads in the classroom instead.
The board expressed interest in allowing the high school students to take their Chromebooks home each day, to keep the same one for four years, and then to keep it after they graduate. It could potentially raise maintenance issues with some students, but it would also lower the cost of having to replace those laptops every four years instead of every three years.
“I think they got to take it home while they’re in high school,” board member Mark Miller said.
The district currently has 400 Chromebooks, seven Chromebook carts, and 18 iPads. In order to follow that plan, the district would need to purchase an additional 400 Chromebooks, 25 Chromebook carts, 120 iPads, and six iPad carts.
The estimated upfront costs range from approximately $170,944 to $182,520, with the plan they are likely to approve being approximately $173,470. Annual maintenance costs would also be expected to rise.
The board also approved seeking bids for the connecting corridor project, which will also include a board of education office. A pre-bid meeting will be held on Feb. 27, with bids being due by March 9. The total cost for that project is estimated at between $600,000 and 638,000.
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