SHOW LOW — Over the next seven months, the Show Low High School Gymnasium will undergo a $1.5 million reconstruction with funds provided by the state School Facilities Board (SFB). The project includes new gym flooring, new bleachers and air conditioning on the building.
The gym downtime will impact practice and game time for basketball, wrestling, volleyball, cheer, physical education classes and other assembly uses from now through March 2020.
Show Low Unified School District (SLUSD) is in the process of finalizing and implementing solutions which include working with other neighboring districts for use of their facilities. In addition, the district is utilizing Whipple Ranch and Nikolaus Homestead elementary gyms.
The administration has met with the district’s principals, athletic directors, coaches, city officials and other staff to identify how to work around the gym downtime.
A leadership team has been created to help maintain schedules, communicate with the athletic departments, coaches, staff, parents and students.
Why start now?
Although it would seem less cumbersome to postpone the gymnasium remodel until summer, the state funding must be utilized within a certain timeframe. Delaying the project could simply mean losing the state funding altogether.
The entire project had to be approved by the SFB by January in order to be funded during the 2018-2019 funding year, informed Housley. In that scenario, the gym remodel could have started between April – June 2019.
“The District and the SFB representatives were hoping the state legislature would provide emergency funding for outstanding projects and that we would be on the top of the list,” Superintendent Shad Housley stated.
Unfortunately, emergency funding was not approved, so the project had to be moved to the July SFB meeting where it was approved. The funding, said Housley, also allowed the AC units to be ordered which are considered “long-lead items” taking up to 12 weeks to receive. The bleacher replacement added another 12 weeks to the project timeline.
Housley explained that, if the project construction is delayed until next summer for example, “… SFB would pull the funding to ensure other projects could get resolved around the state,” explained Housley. There’s no guarantee we would see the money again,” and “The district would have a high likelihood of the (gym) floor being disqualified for play.”
If the SFB funds had been pulled due to a postponement of the work, “the project could have to be funded through district financing,” said Housley.
Show Low Unified School District (SLUSD) spent $80,000 on the aging facility in 2015-2016 school year to “remedy issues caused by excess moisture leaching through the concrete, as well as additional moisture due to humidity and swamp coolers,” according to Housley’s report to the school board.
The work appeared to suffice until, in the 2017-2018 school year, school officials identified “significant buckling and movement in the gym floor, including separation of the sub-floor,” informs the report.
“The concrete was weeping moisture causing the floor boards to be almost vertical,” described Housley during the Thursday, Sept. 12 regular school board meeting.
Due to the worsening condition of the gym floor, the district brought in a flooring consultant to evaluate it. “We were told by the floor inspector that the floor was unplayable and could not be used,” indicated Housley’s written report.
At that time, the district began to look for solutions which including partnering with an engineering firm to determine the scope and cost of work required which was a lengthy process said Housley.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the district submitted a Building Renewal Grant request to the School Facilities Board.
The request included removing and replacing the old gym floor and replacing the bleachers because it was determined in the engineering evaluation that they “could not be reused for safety code reasons,” explained Housley in the board meeting an through the written report.
Removal of the gym swamp coolers and replacement with air conditioning units is part of the grant request.
The “… School Facilities Board does not provide for AC above 6,000 feet elevation, according to their minimum guidelines. So, developing the scope [of the project] with the appropriate supporting documentation for the recommendation took time,” added Housley.
The SFB approved the installation of AC on the gym instead of replacing the swamp coolers to protect and preserve the new flooring. The moisture created by the swamp coolers contributed to the gym floor deterioration. “Air conditioning uses DX cooling which removes humidity,” explains Shawn West, the Director of Transportation and Facilities.
The gym floor is expected to be completed by January 31, 2020 and the bleachers are expected to be replaced in March 2020.
The AC unit installation has to be integrated into the remodeling schedule to protect the new flooring.
Event, practice and game scheduling will be updated on the school website at https://www.showlow.education/ and the district’s social media page as it becomes finalized.
The athletic game schedules will also be updated on the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) website.
For more information, parents and staff are welcome to contact their school’s principal or athletic directors.