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Cascade and Jackson high schools to get new athletic tracks

Cascade and Jackson high schools will get new synthetic tracks, but other improvements will wait.

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Athletes who complain of pulled muscles, shin splits and injured tendons after using the aging cinder tracks at Everett's Cascade and Jackson high schools will soon get some relief.
New eight-lane synthetic tracks are scheduled to be completed by mid-August, about the time the school's football and cross-country teams begin practice, said Robert Polk, the school district's director of athletics. The tracks are estimated to cost nearly $632,000 each.
But community groups who wanted additional improvements will have to wait.
It may take several more years for the district to pay for new synthetic turf and for new lighting and synthetic practice and soccer fields. The tab for these improvements could add up to an additional $3.7 million at each school.
The school district may ask for help from city governments, community and booster groups and perhaps even taxpayers for those costs, Polk said.
Although both Cascade and Jackson have aging tracks, more attention has been focused on http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110324/SPORTS01/703249850">Cascade's track, which hasn't had a major upgrade in 49 years and is muddy for much of the year.
Earlier this year, students began a letter-writing campaign, asking for improvements to the Cascade track, noting that some students blamed their injuries on the track's condition.
But Cascade wasn't the only school in the district with a cinder track. Jackson's cinder track is estimated to be about 20 years old.
In all practicality, the school district couldn't approve a new synthetic track for one school and not the other.
All these issues were brewing at the same time the school district was considering whether to go ahead with long-delayed plans for a new administration building.
In July, the school board voted to approve both the new administration building -- then estimated to cost $23.3 million -- as well as up to $2 million apiece for new tracks and site planning at Cascade and Jackson high schools.
The question was whether to go ahead just with the new tracks or wait until money was available to do synthetic tracks, practice fields, soccer fields and lighting at each school.
Ultimately, the district decided to go ahead with track replacement, Polk said. Money will be left over to save for the future improvements.
The bids are expected to be sought in February and awarded in March. Construction is expected to begin in May, he said.
Competition areas for the long jump will be moved at both schools as the artificial turf is installed, he said.
Meanwhile, the school district is continuing its talks with Mill Creek about the possibility of the city helping to pay for synthetic turf for Jackson High School's soccer field.
The district is considering whether to include the synthetic soccer and practice fields at both schools as part of a 2014 bond issue, he said.
Earlier this month, a number of people spoke out at a school board meeting in support of the track projects.
Among them was Ann Schwab, whose son has participated in Cascade football and track programs. She estimated that 10,000 people use the Cascade sports facilities each year.
The discussion over the tracks also sparked a debate between new school board president Jeff Russell and Carl Shipley, an ardent supporter of track and other improvements to the Cascade sports fields.
The debate was over what Shipley was allowed to say about the project during the public meeting. A recently-renewed district policy attempts to proscribe what can, and cannot, be said by anyone -- including taxpayers -- during open, public school district meetings.
The policy allows the five-member elected school board to cut off comments they personally consider critical of their performance, or that of district staff, in overseeing the 18,000-student district, which has a budget of about $185 million.
Shipley noted that school district wasn't considering paying for new synthetic sports fields even though the school board approved an expansion of its new administration building by at least $800,000 in November. Other improvements could bring the total up to $3.1 million.
"The question you should ask yourselves is will you have any political capital left to burn come bond and levy voting time?" Shipley said.
Russell told Shipley he was "very close to being out of order in terms of attributing motive."
Shipley asked Russell for clarification on what he said that was out of order.
"Attributing motive in terms of not caring about kids," Russell said. "That's what we heard."
"Did I say anywhere you didn't care about kids?" Shipley asked. Shipley told Russell he would provide him with a copy of his comments to scrutinize.
"We're not going to get into it," said Russell, who then bestowed the board's thanks upon Shipley for "sharing your concerns with us."
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » Everett School District

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