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School board approves bids for OEC synthetic turf, landscaping

SOLON– MBA, Inc. from North Liberty will do the grading and landscaping for Solon’s new Outdoor Events Center. The North Liberty company has created field hockey and soccer fields for the University of Iowa, was the general contractor for a soccer field at Indian Hills Community College and renovated the IC Kickers soccer fields for the City of Iowa City.
Closer to home, Solon’s WaMaC rival, Clear Creek Amana, had its football stadium laser-graded by MBA.
MBA outbid four other companies with the lowest bid of $293,000, announced Monday night, Dec. 12, during a session of the Solon school board. Only two other bids came in under $300,000 for the landscaping, field prep, extension of track run-outs for sprinters, and relocation of long jump pits.
The field work will set the stage for approximately 92,000 square feet of an artificial grass called FieldTurf Prestige from a company in Denison, Iowa, called Midwest FieldTurf.
The green carpet will cost $346,500 and depict soccer lines in yellow and football markings in white, the orange Spartan helmet logo and no football end zone or sideline lettering.
There was one just other bid to provide the playing surface.
Board member Lianne Westcot asked about the provisions for removal and disposal costs. Superintendent Sam Miller said there would be cost to strip the turf and haul it away, priced by square foot, and might cost $50,000 to $90,000 at the end of the field’s life after 10 to 14 years.

In other business
Also during the meeting, board members approved a program designed to reduce and prevent dropouts with funding derived from property taxes going towards reading recovery and other learning supports, student group work with counselors, and after-school programming.
Pat Moore, Solon school’s business manager, presented information on an automated payroll system. The software would allow the district to end paper timesheets, purchasing and requisitions and data entry. She estimated the district spent $30,000 per year collecting timesheets, and inputting payroll numbers by hand.
A new system would contain a punch clock for each building’s hourly staff connected to the system. An employee portal would allow teachers to check wage and benefit info on-line.
A decision on the purchase will be made in January or February.
High school principal Nathan Wear, the administrative representative for the district’s calendar committee, presented two possible school calendars to the board for next year. The two calendars were a week apart, with the earlier schedule’s first day of school on Aug. 14 and its last day on May 17.
Miller mentioned the strategic planning committee might want to see what an alternative schedule might look like.
Board president Dave Asprey said he would take into consideration data on student performance in a year-round school year, but also wanted to look at associated costs and the pragmatic application of a 12-month timeline, including air-conditioning and other costs.
Miller also asked if the calendar committee could work on a two-year schedule to give parents a chance to make long-range family plans. Wear agreed to create a timeline for creating a two-year schedule.

In high school news, Shawn Cornally and his physics class watched a bag of flour hit the ground after it was dropped out of an airplane in an empty field. The students’ assignment was to calculate the trajectory of the bag as it descended from the skies.
Cornally said he shoots for perplexing, engaging and riveting class projects because he’s competing with video games and movies for students’ attention.
Taking proper care for safety and permissions, Cornally said they checked regulations and called the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Defense for clearance.
About 40 students made the field trip a few miles south of Solon in the name of math and science.
Cornally wrote about the Dec. 9 aeronautical event, including some riveting photos, on his blog at www.101studiostreet.com.