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Future improvements to athletic facilities at North Adams Community Schools could be funded in part by tax-deductible donations from local residents.
A proposal to create a not-for-profit athletic foundation that would allow the school district to raise private funds for athletic capital improvement projects was unveiled Tuesday at the school district's monthly board meeting. The discussion was held in conjunction with the news that a bare-bones upgrade at Worthman Stadium would cost in the neighborhood of a half million dollars.
Superintendent Dr. Wylie Sirk told board members that, in light of annual decreases in public funding for schools, local educators are "looking at how to generate revenue, through the establishment of alternative funding mechanisms, to keep North Adams competitive for future generations."
The district's most immediate need, Sirk said, is to "refurbish (Worthman) stadium and the surrounding area."
At the January board meeting, buildings and grounds supervisor Larry Carty reported that said a proposal to renovate the stadium had been expanded from just restrooms to also include locker rooms, shower rooms, offices and storage areas. He said plans call for upgrades to heating, ventilation and plumbing equipment and lighting at the facilities, as well as bringing the stadium into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Fort Wayne architectural firm of Barton-Coe-Vilamaa was contracted to provide detailed specifications and to prepare a cost estimate for the project.
That estimate is now in hand, Carty reported at Tuesday's meeting, with a $529,500 estimated price tag "just to restore the facility to what it originally was — which never was sufficient." He said consideration is now being given to "alternate courses of action, including — but not limited to — the construction of a new stadium and a multi-purpose fieldhouse/training facility separate from the existing stadium."
At the opposite end of the new construction proposal would be a lesser renovation project to the stadium that would correct only some of the deficiencies.
A new foundation?
With some type of an upgrade at the stadium looming large, and with other current and future improvements to athletic facilities certainly awaiting down the road, Sirk had asked board attorney Scott Ainsworth to research the possible establishment of a non-profit foundation designed specifically to help meet those athletic facility needs.
Ainsworth said Indiana Code allows schools to organize and establish a foundation "for any legitimate educational purpose" of the district.
"We are looking at structuring an entity that allows the solicitation of private funds, where those donations can be tax-deductible," Ainsworth said. He recommended turning to the Adams County Community Foundation to help establish such a program, "because the structure is already there."
"Not only can you set up this foundation to do whatever you want it to do, but there can also be funds within a fund" where donors could make specific instructions about how their donations are to be used.
"In these economic times this seems to me to be a perfect vehicle for all community members who choose to do so to make contributions" to athletic endeavors, Ainsworth said. "I would recommend you establish a general athletic support foundation, and within that foundation you establish sub-funds."
Board members were receptive to the proposal. "This could free up dollars for us to use in the classroom," said Ben Faurote.
"I like what you're saying," added board president Tim Ehlerding. "It behooves us to work with potential donors."
The school board voted 5-0 to authorize Sirk to set in motion the framework for the establishment of the athletic capital improvements foundation.