Softball turf, concrete seating and six tennis courts to be installed this summer

School Board has funds set aside for several projects

Watch for construction soon on the south side of Stadium Drive east of Cardinal Stadium.

By the end of August, Webb City R-7 School Board members expect to see players and fans at six new tennis courts and a revamped softball field.

Those are two of the five capital projects they discussed during a special meeting Thursday:

  • Convert the former junior high library into three administrative offices and two full-size classrooms at a cost of $131,000. The space has been rather empty since the new library was built into the tornado shelter. The offices will be for the principal, assistant principal and athletic director.
  • Six tennis courts constructed of pre-stressed concrete at a cost of $536,865. The special concrete comes with a 10-year warranty. Bids will also be sought for parking and lighting.
  • Installation of turf on the softball field, along with new fences and backstop and dugouts. Concrete seating, deep enough for lawn chairs, will be built into the hill for up to 400 home fans.
  • Replace some of the HVAC units at the high school and junior high.
  • Install turf on the middle school playground.

The estimated total cost is $3.4 million, which Superintendent Tony Rossetti said will be available in the district’s capital improvement fund.

Home sweet softball home

When the board decided to upgrade the baseball field with turf, new dugouts, fences and backstop, it was with the idea that with a few changes softball would be played there, too, since baseball is played in the spring and softball in the fall.

Softball players, however, chose to play on their own field.

Now, according to Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent of business operations, Coach Shauna Friend is in favor of installing turf on the softball infield because it will be easier to maintain and play more consistently. Without the turf, Cooper said the infield would still have to be reworked. The outfield’s condition is fine as it is.

Cooper estimated the turf, basic dugout construction and fencing will cost $356,000. The terrace seating completion of the dugouts will cost $100,000 to $130,000.

Not everything would have to be done this summer, but as board member David Collard said, “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right, right out of the gate.”

With the planned improvements, Cooper noted “there won’t be any disparity between boys and girls sports.”

Rossetti said that with the newly approved improvements added to the baseball field, Cardinal Stadium and Cardinal Dome, Webb City “will have some of the finer places to play in southwest Missouri.”

Two previously approved projects are also underway. A new facility housing a range for archery and the JROTC rifle team is being built on the east side of the high school, and the swim center is being expanded for locker rooms. The original design has sparse restrooms for combined use by swimmers and the public.

21-22 budget summary approved

The board approved a summary budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The district is starting the year with $8,500,000 in the general fund, which is a $2,800,000 increase over last year.

There’s also $1,375,000 more in the capital improvements fund than there was a year ago. That fund will begin with $1,600,000 on hand and will increase almost immediately to $3,100,000 when $1,500,000 from the Classroom Trust Fund is received. The district typically transfers that revenue from the general fund to the capital fund as soon as it’s received.

The budget summary anticipates a $2,622,449 deficit.

“That said, I don’t anticipate deficit spending,” Rossetti said.

The summary basically plugs in actual 20-21 revenues while Rossetti says he is aware of several revenue sources that are expected to increase.

For instance, local property values are believed to be increasing because this is a reassessment year, but he conservatively estimated local revenue will be the same. Rossetti also expects but doesn’t completely budget a “robust” increase in Proposition C property tax receipts.

Of greater impact will be a $5.9 million ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Fund payment. Rossetti said he did not include it in the summary because of uncertainty about how the funds will be dispersed by the Missouri Legislature.

The tentative budget does include a 4.25% increase in salaries and $300,000 for 11 new staff members.

There’s more good news for employees – they won’t have to pay more for health insurance under the district’s self-funded plan.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved the purchase of a used14-passenger bus from Masters Transportation for $37,900. Some small groups (sports and otherwise) are now traveling in a Suburban driven by a sponsor. It’s felt the 14-passenger bus will be a better option. The district will provide training for sponsors to drive this new vehicle.
  • Discussed the possibility of establishing a position to improve attendance, especially by working with families. The Jasper County Juvenile Office has signaled that it will focus more on reducing criminal activity instead of truancy.
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