Bids for artificial turf on Lions Memorial Stadium at Rolla High School will be sought, the Rolla Board of Education decided Monday night.

Bids for artificial turf on Lions Memorial Stadium at Rolla High School will be sought, the Rolla Board of Education decided Monday night.

“My recommendation is we send bid packets out,” Assistant Superintendent Kelly Hinshaw told the board after a presentation on the fundraising movement for the artificial turf.

Whether any of the bids will be accepted at this stage is questionable, for whether the school district has enough money to finance the switch from natural grass to artificial turf is questionable.

The purpose of the bid solicitation seemed to be aimed at gaining information rather than seriously considering a move to turf. Nevertheless, once companies turn in bids in good faith, something will have to be done.

“In February, you’ll have to make a decision,” Hinshaw said, but he added that it might be the decision would be that the district at that point is not ready to enter into the project.

Board members unanimously approved the bid solicitation.

“We need to get some firm numbers,” board member Keith Strassner said after making the motion to send out the bid packets with an alternate bid request that additional seating be figured into the project.

There has been a fundraising movement since the formation of a committee of alumni and local residents in 2010, Hinshaw said.

That effort, called “Turf by ’12,” took off in 2012. Hinshaw noted that in March, the committee had just $14,000 pledged. Monday night, it had $275,000, and Hinshaw said it would likely have $280,000 by January.

Hinshaw credited Mitch Lewis and Bill Peach as prime leaders of the large committee that has seen members come and go. Lewis was present at the school board meeting, and he thanked all those in the community who have donated and worked for the turf.
He also said that many people in the community have told him “It will never happen,” but the board’s action Monday night will show those naysayers that the board is serious about the project.

Moreover, he said, the board action might prompt some holdouts to “buck up” and donate to the cause.

Hinshaw, in his presentation, included the artificial turf with the school district’s long-range facility plans, including additions at Rolla Junior High School, Rolla High School and Rolla Middle School, all of which have been completed.

Another project in the works is an Early Childhood Center, discussed at length during the board’s recent study session.

Hinshaw also stressed that the turf committee was charged to create a vision, share it with the community, discuss an alumni support network, seek support from the board of education and develop an internal Rolla Public Schools support strategy.

“It has been a joint effort like all the projects we do,” Hinshaw said.

Turf is being sought because it is safer than natural grass and is more durable. It can be used by more students — and outside groups — more often than natural grass. The field could be rented for commercial uses, giving it some profitability.

“It is a fact,’ Hinshaw acknowledged, that all other schools in the Ozark Conference have football fields with artificial turf. That is a consideration, he said, though not the main consideration.

Hinshaw said a company will help write the bid specifications, as it has done with other schools. Writing those specifications, preparing the bid documents and reviewing bids will take until a February meeting.

“The base bid would include all the items required for installation of synthetic turf the main field at Lions Memorial Stadium,” Hinshaw said. Alternates would include the center logo, end zone letters, side line logos, carpet weight upgrade, flexible goal posts, north end zone netting, retaining wall and bleacher relocation and turf practice area.

In other business or discussion:

• The board heard an update on use of technology in the classroom from Ginger King, director of technology; Brenda Spurgeon, instructional technology facilitator, and Linda Hagen, instructional technology specialist.

• Assistant Superintendent Craig Hounsom outlined the new Missouri School Improvement Plan, version 5.

• Superintendent Dr. Aaron Zalis talked about the work done on the 2013-2014 school calendar.

• Hounsom also listed the changes in the course description book for the high school and technical schools.

• RHS student Iqra Choudhury was named the student advisor to the board, succeeding senior Michael Steelman.

• German teacher Tamatha Lueck was recognized for her presentation “How to Revive your Program in 180 Days” for being selected as this year’s Best of Missouri. She has been asked to represent the state at the 2014 Central States Conference by the Foreign Language Association of Missouri.