By Sarah Pridgeon
The long-standing question of why Sundance and Hulett High Schools have neither lighting on their football fields nor suitable tracks has recently been revisited by the students. In response, Tom Necklason, Facility Manager, explains that money is not currently available for either project but the community is welcome to kick start the process.
“Lighting for the football field would be district funded, not state funded,” he says. “We have so few games in the evenings that we felt it would not be cost effective.”
The lighting situation is the same for all three schools in the district. It has been investigated several times, says Necklason, but has never been considered of sufficient priority because games and practice generally take place during daylight hours.
The price tag associated with purchasing and installing lights would also be cost-prohibitive for the district.
“It also has to do with officials,” he adds. “They can officiate here in the afternoon and then go to somewhere like Gillette, where they do have lights. It is always easier to get an official in the afternoon than the evening.”
Installing a track at the Hulett and Sundance schools is a slightly different issue that relates to the state’s method of rating school districts. As Crook County is a 2A school district, says Necklason, state regulations dictate that it will pay for one track between the three schools and will only fund asphalt rather than all-weather surfacing.
“When we put the astro turf in at Moorcroft about three years ago, the state funded that track,” he explains. “As we were doing work there at the time, it was decided that that would be the best place.”
Sundance and Hulett High Schools each currently have a track with a fine-crushed gravel base. In spring, when the ground is muddy, the track is less solid and muddier; ironically, they tend to be at their best when track season is over, says Necklason.
An additional track in either school would need to be district funded, he continues. “It would look funny to start doing that when the district has other priorities to consider at the moment.”
If the state requirements change or more money becomes available, CCSD would definitely reconsider building a new track. “I think it would be a possibility in the near future,” he nods.
In the meantime, Necklason mentions that there may be interest within the community to raise the money to install lights on the football fields and a new track at each school.
“There seem to be some fundraising ideas out there for the track and, community wise, there are things that can be done,” he says, noting that Central Office is the best place to direct enquiries and ideas. “It’s the same with the lights – if the community really wants to do it, they can.”
A fundraising effort would need to raise sufficient money to purchase the lights and install them, after which the district could take over running them, says Necklason. For new tracks, money would be needed to smooth the surface and lay the asphalt but the district would then be able to maintain them.