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Schools commit to fieldhouse, solar

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

The Fayette County School Board will move forward with two large projects at Connersville High School.

The Spartan Fieldhouse and a solar power project both received board approval on Tuesday.

“We are building a fieldhouse about 26,000 square foot,” Mike Schipp, architect from Fanning Howey Associates, said. The fieldhouse would allow the courtyard to be enclosed and help with security of the facility. There will also be a new administration area built as part of the 2109 project.”

The fieldhouse would have three basketball courts, a fitness area, athletic director’s office, lockers, restrooms and concessions.

The board first discussed the fieldhouse in June. A few updates to the project have been made to the fieldhouse since the previous conversations.

“We have reorganized the spaces, grouped restrooms together, all in attempt to get as much storage place as possible. Anytime we can get more space and not increase the footprint, that is what we try to do,” Schipp said.

The fieldhouse and administration building is to be finished around December 2019.

“This new administration and entrance to this building ... is a key component to our security, to have that one main entrance and the staff right there at that entrance, that is key,” Mark Beard, board member, said.

The school administration is working closely with Fanning Howey on cost. 

“With the fieldhouse project, we have a cap on the total cost not to exceed $5 million.  We are not certain what the final cost will be until the facility is bid on and we know what the costs will be; however, we are confident, based on our work with Fanning Howey, that we will be able to accomplish this new construction at or under budget,” Scott Collins, superintendent, said. “... Ideally, we hope to see the costs below budget so we can use the excess funds for the second project, which is adding office space for our high school administration at the new, main entrance next to the fieldhouse.” explained Collins. 

The board also approved a location for solar panels.

FFA members and local farmers filled the small board room Tuesday, prepared to state why they didn’t want the 3.5 acres of 3x10 feet panels to be placed in a field south east of the school. If placed there, it would be a loss of income for the FFA chapter, Gabe Nobbe, agriculture teacher, said.

Collins and Performance Services came up with a solution that shouldn’t affect students, staff or athletes. The solar array will be on the south side of the Whitewater Career Center, across from the administration building.

“I am really pleased that we found a solution that does not impact any of our student programs at this time,” Collins said. “As we looked at the six options presented to us for placement of the solar panels, we knew that we needed close to 3.5 acres of land.  Four of the six options would have utilized land currently used by our FFA/agriculture programs or our athletic programs.”