During Mountain Home’s Board of Education regular meeting on Jan. 19, Coach Mitch Huskey presented the case for new flooring and weightlifting equipment for Mountain Home High School’s weight room. The weight room was last updated almost 20 years ago.
Five bids were received but only one bidder included all items from the RFP. Simply known only as “Bidder #5”, Huskey recommended the board accept their bid of $206,795.81 worth of upgrades for the high school weight room.
“This is something that every head coach we have has agreed and said, ‘this is what we need’,” Huskey said.
Photos demonstrating the current state of the high school weight room. Photos provided by Mountain Home Public Schools.
The current weight room had its last update in 2004 and can house 48 student athletes at one time. According to Huskey, the floating padded floors are coming apart and are no longer staying in place which raises some safety concerns. Additionally, the current equipment is so bulky that it does not fit properly in the space provided which sometimes causes crowding.
The proposed purchase was already budgeted for this fiscal year, with $38,843.14 of the grand total coming from the general building fund for the flooring aspect of the bid.
“I’m just going to briefly address the elephant in the room,” said Bob Chester, the newest elected member of the Mountain Home Board of Education. “We’ve got some serious concerns about the facility at the high school. And we’ve got three options.”
Chester referred to the three options to address the aging high school facility that Superintendent Dr. Jake Long presented to the board on Jan. 5: do nothing, re-roof the existing building for about $10 million or move forward with the new building plans that now have a price tag of upwards of $60 million.
Discussion on Jan. 5 lingered on potentially re-supporting the existing structure and gutting it all underneath. But at 80 thousand square feet at a cost of $375/sq ft, the district would be looking at a $30 million renovation project and still have the existing plumbing and foundational issues.
Dr. Long pointed out to the board that none of the athletics space will be part of the renovation or the potential upcoming millage ask.
“I’m supportive 100% of our sports department and they’re doing a great job. And the kids are involved. It’s just, we have a part of the community that thinks we got plenty. And we need to honestly be responsible with what funds we do have until we know how we can move ahead with the high school facility,” explained Chester.
Dan Smakal, President of the Board of Education spoke out in a rare moment before calling the question. “It becomes more of a safety issue for me. If you’re going to put something new and that makes it more safer, why wouldn’t you do that for our kids?”
The motion carried by a vote of 4-2, with Chester and fellow board member Neal Pendergrass dissenting.
The new weight equipment
The new equipment after installation would allow for 96 students athletes to train in the weight room at once, eliminating the need for some to report in the weight room as early as 5:30 a.m. for training.
The high school has about 280 student athletes it accommodates throughout the year, plus another 200 seasonally.
Part of the weight room will also have a turf section for pushing sleds or just as a general space for a range of exercises.
“Something Coach Huskey didn’t mention is that where our racks are now they’re free standing– just one rack, so they move,” said Coach Brett Shrable when invited to speak on the matter. “They move back and forward, with these– these are seven-gauge steel racks but what we have now it’s 14 gauge, they’re much heavier, and they’re connected. So they won’t move. So, from a safety standpoint, it’s really a no brainer.”
However, most of the older equipment will be transferred to the Junior High as a hand-me-down for their 230 student athletes.
“We would take our current equipment that we have at the high school and take to the junior high. As much as we can fit in there. What we couldn’t fit in there, we’d put upstairs because we also have another weight room that’s upstairs in the balcony in the gym,” said Coach Huskey.
At Pinkston Middle School, they have about 80 to 90 student athletes, and they will also benefit from this purchase. Huskey said they plan to take the padded floating flooring out of the high school weight room and place it in Pinkston’s weight room which has bare concrete flooring with very few mats.
The school district plans on holding a special public meeting on Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria about a potential millage tax increase for the purpose of the high school renovation. The public is encouraged to participate.
Update: The meeting will be held in Dunbar Auditorium instead of the cafeteria.
Bid Summary for Mountain Home’s High School Weight Room