Bolivar R-1 School District may be close to completing its bond-funded practice track, but outgoing superintendent Tony Berry believes the district shouldn’t stop there.
The track, across from the high school campus on North Hartford Avenue, was part of R-1’s $6 million no-tax-rate-increase bond package approved by voters in April 2019.
Cost estimations remain at about $600,000 for the final project, which will meet competitive standards but doesn’t include lights or stadium seating.
“All we’re going to use it for now is practice,” Berry previously told the BH-FP.
But, that hasn’t stopped Berry, who in November 2020 announced his retirement at the end of the 2020-21 school year, from lobbying for loftier goals.
“We are a Class 5 school district,” Berry said at the R-1 board of education’s Tuesday, March 23, meeting. “We are in one of the most elite athletic conferences in the state, and we are the only ones that do not have a stadium.”
Bolivar should develop the future practice track into a sports complex, Berry told the board.
But, any further steps need input from the Bolivar community, he said.
The public is invited to give feedback at a school board meeting set for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15.
“Does something like this affect our sports teams?” Berry said. “Of course. It’s not just perception. It’s preparation. It would also affect our band and give us an outdoor classroom for BIS and BPS, along with Little Liberators Daycare.”
For now, there’s still work to be done.
R-1 activities director Todd Schrader told the BH-FP Thursday, April 1, the track was still awaiting final surfacing.
“It’s about like this,” Schrader said, indicating the asphalt parking lot he was standing on outside BHS soccer field Thursday afternoon.
Schrader said a time frame for finishing the track will depend on what, if anything, is decided at Thursday’s meeting.
“We’ll know more then,” he said.
Board president Paula Hubbert said at the March meeting the idea has her support.
“I strongly believe we need a sports complex,” she said. “I would go out on a limb and say it first. Our kids deserve this. Our community deserves this. The Bolivar that I graduated from is not the Bolivar I live in now. It’s going to be essential we plan for the growth we’re going to see in our community.”
Berry said the district has the opportunity to take advantage of money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to offset lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That puts us back into a strong financial state, and at that point, maybe we can do some things,” he said. “We need to formalize plans and look at what we can do moving forward.”
Berry said he’d have more specific estimates at the April 15 meeting.