The project should be completed by July 20 and ready for school in the fall. The new track and diamonds will mean the school will be able to host its first track meet in 20 years and its first varsity baseball and softball games in a generation.
The project is the result of a millage levy approved in August 2016, the only request for new money to be approved in Ohio, Superintendent Eric Belcher said. Local boosters and school funds have helped raise money as well.
The new Ag classroom will help the school handle the 100 or so students between junior and high school who are taking classes. The current space was intended for only 30.
“The set up in the Ag building was not necessarily conducive to the needs of what they are doing,” Belcher said. “Saws aren’t set up the ventilation system.”
The work will yield a newer larger Ag classroom as well as a renovation of the existing classroom, Belcher said.
The current work space is too small to allow all the equipment to be set up at the same time. A CNC unit sits in a box, unused, while tables and other saws are piled in a corner. Using them requires the other saws to be moved to make room.
The expansion will allow the class to have a food processing center to conduct science-based work. “To look at tomato parts,” Belcher said as an example of the kind work next year’s classes will be able to do. “They are going to be doing aquaponics which is growing plants in water.”
This will require all the existing ventilation to be removed and installed in the new space, Belcher said.
Students were seen cutting wood to turn into benches and hanging displays. There were three or four students working the saws and another 15 or so in a classroom next door. The confines may theoretically able to hold 30 people, but even half that number would be a tight fit.
Students now are working on making hanging gardens through hydroponics. The plan is to grow food the students can take home. The food is growing in a greenhouse and then will be transferred to an adjacent area when the hanging garden will be.
The track will mean Fayette can host track meets. The team uses the village track which is stone and not acceptable as a competitive surface. The new track will be made of latex, but with polyurethane covering which will extend the life of the surface, Belcher said.
“It almost doubles the life,” Belcher said. “It’s just like a home. We upgrade it now to save us money down the road.”
For the diamonds there will be a brick wall used for a backstop. The bricks will be the same color as the school. Mesh netting will be used to protect spectators as well. The brick wall will be used in the outfield as well, with padding added. The infield dirt will be 2 inches of soil with a conditioner placed on top. The school will pick the color of the conditioner, which Belcher said is what spectators see at the game. Choices will be based on existing colors and the staining of uniforms, he said. The soils also helps soak up water so more games can be played, Belcher said.
A small parking lot will be added between the track and baseball diamond. This will allow people to watch the game from the comfort of their cars on a cold day, Belcher said. The track’s infield will be large enough to allow for three junior-level soccer fields as well. There are no plans to add football at this time as class sizes (35) are too small to support a program, Belcher said.
The track will also be opened up to the community for walking as well, he said.
Once the work is done on the diamonds, boosters will construct dugouts and install scoreboards. The next objective will be extending the parking lot and building a field house to store equipment and run the scoreboards from a mezzanine, Belcher said.
A prefab pole barn can also be set up to be used by the Mini Eagles youth basketball leagues. Gym space now is at a premium and the youngsters often can’t get time until 8 or 9 at night, Belcher said. The pole barn can also house the archery program which has grown to 50 students, he said.
The added space will also give the school more room to store desks and chairs and free up a classroom. That could be a need if the trend coming from preschool stays constant. The district has 47 kids signed up for preschool next fall, with another 37 for kindergarten.
Some day the building can be rented out by community groups and there will be drop down batting cages as well. But, for now, the projects will hopefully show the voters the district is being a good steward of the money given to them. The family-oriented approach to the athletic complex is what schools are all about, Belcher said.
“What we are looking at is this is an investment not just in the school, but an investment in the community,” Belcher said. “We are saying that families are important to us.”