County commissioners are discussing $30 million for school capital needs, but that money is still at least a year away and won’t help a current need.
Mount Airy High School is about to kick off tennis season with courts that could pose a health risk to players.
Large areas of the court surface have broken up and come loose. The tennis teams and coach have swept away fragments, but the resulting dips create a danger of players rolling ankles or other injuries because of the uneven footing.
Resurfacing the courts has been a topic of discussion going back to 2013, as the girls’ tennis team was wrapping up its third-straight 1A state championship.
City Commissioner Jon Cawley, who also coaches the high school baseball team, took the issue before Mount Airy Board of Commissioners at that time. The board voted 5-0 to fund $50,000 toward court maintenance so that the public could make use of the courts when the school team isn’t using them.
The work didn’t gain approval from the county, however, so Mount Airy never got around to setting aside the $5,000 a year for 10 years as planned.
Last spring, the issue came up again during budget talks with the county Board of Commissioners.
As the tennis courts have gotten worse, consultants now believe a simple resurfacing will not suffice. The foundation has shifted underneath, causing long horizontal cracks across multiple courts.
“There’s no way you can repair that,” Cawley advised his fellow city officials.
While a resurfacing job is eyed for the middle school courts, those at the high school are to be dug up and replaced. This will involve milling down to a solid surface and building up from there.
This past week, Jason Dorsett, city schools’ chief operations officer, gave a report to the Board of Education.
“I notified the board that new tennis courts at MAHS are a top priority,” said Dorsett. “This project is just up and running and we don’t have complete details yet.”
Dorsett told the school board that his goal is to ensure that athletes are never put in a situation where they can not have home athletic events for their sports.
The high school also hosts the Northwest Conference Tournament for both girls and boys because there are six courts and all have lighting. And as arguably the best 1A girls’ tennis team in the state over the past decade, the Lady Bears have hosted many playoff matches, too.
Dorsett said he has been told the entire project could take up to two months, so it would be best to do that over the summer break.
Whether that happens this summer or next summer is left to be determined.
At Friday’s county retreat, commissioners discussed a plan to give Mount Airy City Schools $3 million for capital projects in the 2018-19 budget. Getting money before then could take petitioning the board for a special appropriation.
Last year the city schools asked for $225,000 from the county, along with the $50,000 commitment from the city in order to work on both the high school and middle school tennis facilities. The city reaffirmed its commitment, but the county did not fund the project in the current budget.
• Also at the meeting, Dorsett presented the board with a draft for a 2017-18 school calendar.
He said school officials have worked with various groups — such as a calendar committee, leadership team and teachers — to create a calendar that adheres to state guidelines while creating some flexibility.
Dr. Kim Morrison, school superintendent, recommended that the proposed calendar to be presented to the community for comment, as usual, and that a rough draft for the next year be created, too. The board agreed to post the 2017-18 calendar on the school district website and on social media so that parents could chime in.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.