Re-2 School Board Ponders Best-Use Option for Thunder Stadium


The Lamar Re-2 School Board has been weighing pricing alternatives for the future of Thunder Stadium as well as attempting to maintain the historical significance of the structure in light of needed safety-oriented renovations.

“The board has performed a comprehensive effort to capture the totality of the bleacher project at Thunder Stadium,” explained Dr. Chad Krug, District Superintendent.  He reviewed the three main approaches the board has been considering for over a year.  Option one, estimated at $1.7 million entails maintaining the rock wall on the south side of the stadium and replacing all the bleachers which have become structurally unsound.  The second option would be to deconstruct the wall system, replace the bleachers and use the remaining rock wall to circle the stadium complex for an estimated $1.9 million.  The third option is the most costly at $2.6 million which involves keeping as much of the south wall intact through selective demolition, overall demolition and adding the new bleacher system.

The board is also looking at the cost of replacing the running track at the stadium as that is also aging to the point of replacement.  Krug said the cost estimate for a new track is about $415,000.  “It’s rare that we have this coincidence of two areas that need replacement and when we add that cost to the stadium, we’re estimating just over $2.5 million.”

With that in mind, board members decided to take a different approach through a long range viewpoint by considering the proximity of the high school and middle school to one another.  “We have a high school that was built in the 1970s and there are some portions of the middle school that are close to being 100 years old,” Krug explained, adding that there is a mix of some educators between both locations as well as some shared facilities.

The board is looking at making use of the 40 acres of land at the high school site to construct a football stadium and track and field complex.  “We have asked an architect to come up with some preliminary designs and estimates for us, just to allow a perspective of potential use for several decades to come,” he stated, adding the board is going to weigh the pros and cons of this option as well.  Thunder Stadium would continue to be used if a new sports facility is constructed at the other location, but it would not be under varsity auspices.  The stadium could be used for middle school functions, but that would lessen the financial burden of rebuilding so as to accommodate up to 1,500 visitors in seating.  This scenario would not entail impacting the historical significance of the south wall while eliminating the need for new lighting or a press box.

The board is waiting on word from the state regarding what level of pay raise, if any, will be available for Lamar staff for the new fiscal year.  Krug said David Tecklenburg provided the board with a current financial update in light of how the state budget will play out.  “Right now, we’re in a holding pattern between what we heard in January and where we are now in April and the delay is not making district leaders happy as future contracts may be pending on the outcome.”   The district was able to present an 8% salary increase last year, and Krug said that helped maintain a base salary of $35,600 which helps keep Lamar regionally competitive for teachers.  He said that very few people get into the teaching profession for the money, but a lack of a living wage will cause some of leave.

The board also heard from four students in the district’s ‘shadow’ program which allows students an opportunity to receive a first-hand view of what various professions entail.   Mason Mireles outlined some of his work with Mr. Banker from the school district’s central office while other students spoke about their program which featured veterinarian work at the local animal shelter and in nursing.  “This helps to provide focus for the district when we work to establish community partnerships which allows out students to see the real work as opposed to watching a video on YouTube.  Next year, we’re expanding the program for K-12 to allow our kids to reflect on career interests, personality styles, if they’d prefer to work indoors or outdoors and provide a list of interests them,” he stated.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarEducationFeatured


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