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Marathon tables vote on softball donation

Marathon tables vote on softball donation Marathon tables vote on softball donation

Village suggests $61,500

The Marathon Board of Education last week Wednesday tabled a decision over whether to support a Village of Marathon City project to build a sports complex on land east of CTH NN after school administrator Rick Parks said that, despite the district having a $2.4 million fund balance, school finances were tight this year due to COVID-19 and other unexpected spending.

Marathon City administrator Andy Kurtz asked board members for a contribution to the village’s $3.6 million project, which would include outdoor basketball courts, a challenge playground, four baseball and softball diamonds and two pavilions to hold Fun Days, the community Labor Day weekend festival. The administrator suggested a donation of $61,500. This figure is what it would cost the school district to rent a facility for $25 per school use, such as softball games, over the next 20 years, he said. Currently, the school district uses the softball diamond at Veterans Park for its junior varsity and varsity girls softball games at no charge.

Veterans Park and another Chestnut Street diamond, according to village plans, will be sold for $1 million to help pay for the sports complex.

School board president Brian Gumtz suggested the board donate $40,000 or $50,000 towards the village project, which will also feature a day care center operated by St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Marathon City.

He said the sports complex was part of a larger village development effort that would benefit the school district.

“In the bird’s eye view, this is about building community, jobs, housing and getting more kids,” he said. “We will be growing.”

Gumtz reminded the board, too, that the school district has used the village’s diamond at Veterans Park for decades without spending any significant amount of money on softball facilities.

“We’ve been blessed,” he said. “We haven’t had to spend diddley squat.”

Board members, however, were reluctant to commit. “$60,000 is a lot of money and our first priority is education,” said board member Lia Klumpyan.

Administrator Parks told school board members that if they wanted to support the sports complex he would adjust school budgets to make that happen, but he reminded the board that the district this past year board bought a house for possible future high school campus expansion, had a smaller than usual summer school that will impact state aid and spent tens of thousands of dollars on COVID-19 protective equipment and supplies.

“To me, it’s a tough year,” he said.

Parks said, too, clearing snow from a sidewalk across the Marathon Area Elementary School/Marathon Venture Academy (MAES/MVA) lot to an underground walkway to the sports complex would add a half an hour to district daily winter chores and would be an additional maintenance cost.

On the other side, Parks said, the district would possibly face a $150,000 expense to build its own softball diamond should the village sell the diamond at Veteran’s Park.

He added, however, that Marathon Sports Center has told him that the high school softball teams were welcome to use the diamond there at no charge should they lose the Veterans Park diamond.

Board members said this was a generous offer, but worried that people would bring alcoholic beverages to softball games purchased at the establishment.

Parks told board members that the school district could easily write the village a check to help fund the sports complex, but he wanted to protect the district’s fund balance in order to stave off another revenue cap referendum for 12 or 13 years.

Board members questioned whether the district could donate towards the project in installments over the next several years.

Board member Beth Seubert suggested it might be to the district’s advantage to pay the village $25 per use of its facility over the next several decades.

In the end, board members came to no consensus on what to do and agreed to push off a decision.

In other board business:

_ Board members agreed to postpone moving forward with construction of an outdoor learning classroom at the MAES pond. Administrator Parks said a timber frame style building would cost $175,000 and a more conventional building would cost $100,000.

Board members said that, despite receiving a donation towards the structure, they would put off a decision until spring.

_ High school principal Dave Beranek said new courses in auto repair and business leadership would be offered to students. Whether the classes are will run, he said, will depend on sign-up.

_ Board members approved hiring Mikayla Boehm as a shared MAES and special education program secretary.

_ It was announced the school district has received a $100 donation from CESA 9 to be used for Chromebook covers and a donation of masks from Marshfield Children’s Hospital.