West Platte holds groundbreaking, moving ahead with facilities project

JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo West Platte special projects manager Dr. Mark Harpst, front, speaks to those in attendance during a groundbreaking ceremony held Wednesday, June 17 on the school campus in Weston, Mo. Work on the first phase of a new facilities project, which includes a new athletic stadium, has already begun. WESTON, Mo. — The West Platte School District has broken ground on its most ambitious building project in recent memory – the construction of a new $3.9 million district stadium and track facility.Before its regular board of education meeting Wednesday, June 17, board members, district administration and members of the community gathered on the site of the former West Platte track to celebrate. The ceremony was held amid construction equipment and the remains of the old track with many jokes that the district just couldn’t wait for the groundbreaking to actually break ground.

With special projects coordinator Dr. Mark Harpst leading the event with his commentary, members of the West Platte band played before the groundbreaking. Notables in attendance were school board members, administrators, Weston alderman Joyce Burch and incoming superintendent John Rinehart.

JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo West Platte teacher Ms. Rebecca Fillingham, left, and students (from left to right) Johah Vandel, Taylor McNair, Alessandra Cutolo-Ring, Sarah Von Seggern, Connor McNair and Logan Lee participated in the district’s groundbreaking ceremony for its new construction project, held Wednesday, June 17 in Weston, Mo.

At the board meeting that followed, the board and staff thanked and said farewell to interim superintendent Dr. Francis Moran, whose one-semester tenure ends June 30.

“Francis, I think you look better in blue than in purple anyway,” said board member and retired West Platte superintendent Kyle Stephenson, who worked with Moran during his tenure as superintendent of the North Platte School District.

Construction of the new stadium and track is just Phase 1 of the capital improvement projects discussed during the meeting.

Phase 2 met with board approval June 17 as well and consists of a complex adjoining the stadium and containing the concession stand, locker room and press box. The two-story structure will also include restrooms, a multipurpose room, storage, conference and work rooms as well as a new district administrative office and boardroom.

A new playground will be built on the upper level as well.

The board approved the construction budget, totaling approximately $20 million in projects over the course of several years in four phases. Phase 1, the football field and stadium, comes in at $3,890,000; Phase 2, which also includes an expanded elementary school parking and an access road, comes in at $7,738,850. Phase 3 will include a maintenance building and cafeteria addition, and Phase 4 consists of renovations to the existing high school.

Situated roughly where the current track sits and on the current football practice field, the new stadium will utilize the existing western edge of the track, widening the width of the facility to accommodate a new eight-lane track, FieldTurf football playing surface and other amenities. A portion of the hill will be cut back, and the bleachers built into the created space, maintaining the amphitheater feel of Rudolph Eskridge Stadium, which sits just to the south of the current practice field.

Work to grade the hill had already begun.

Also at the meeting, the board also discussed the possible purchase of Google Chromebooks for the district’s one-to-one technology program. The tablets would be used by first-, second- and third-grade students.

“We bought the technology we agreed to buy, but we never saw a technology plan,” said board president Ron Rowe. “I think that’s something we need to do; we’ve got the new guy who’s probably looking for something to do,” he added, indicating Rinehart in the audience.

Board members agreed, and Moran said he believed a technology plan was a project expected to be under development this year. Board member Shane Bartee said he was skeptical if one-to-one technology was necessary in the lower grades and hoped to see a plan and analysis addressing the benefits before the board approved another technology purchase.