Springfield City School District needs to invest in its athletics program to remain competitive, including increasing coaching salaries, developing more youth and middle school offerings and upgrading facilities, according to Athletic Director Mike Dellapina.
He presented a five-year proposal to the Board of Education recently that includes a wish list of more than $3.5 million in capital improvements to facilities at Springfield High School, Evans Stadium, the former South High School and buildings throughout the district.
The priorities listed for the first year of the plan are mostly at Springfield High School, but also includes installing artificial turf surfaces both there and at Evans Stadium.
“In the GWOC conference, starting next year, 17 of the 20 member schools will play football and soccer on artificial fields,” Dellapina said. “Additionally, it is these schools that will be in the running to host OHSAA tournament games and be in a position to generate additional revenue through the rental of their facilities.”
The school board has no immediate plans to approve any of the projects on the list and no timeline for further discussion, but is interested in the proposal.
Board President Ed Leventhal said he wants to make sure it doesn’t get thrown in a drawer and forgotten.
“The presentation was a starting point for future discussions,” Superintendent Bob Hill said. “Mike provided a full and detailed set of options to ensure that the board discussion is well informed.”
The only immediate improvement planned is to the lighting at the high school. The lights currently on the field sit on original wood poles and will need replaced in the near future to ensure safety, Hill said. He didn’t provide an estimate or timeline for that project but Dellapina’s plan lists new lights at about $300,000.
The board has also asked Dellapina to gather data pertaining to coaching salaries and positions at area schools so the district can assess options to stay competitive.
Jamie Callan also asked him to come up with a list of youth teams that could be added using current facilities and how much it would cost to staff those teams.
Early exposure not only improves performance at the high school level but fosters skills like teamwork in younger children, Dellapina said.
“Many of our students don’t get any exposure to those sports before high school,” Dellapina said.
Year two of the plan centers on development “the Hill” area at the high school, year three focuses on Evans Stadium and venues at the former South High School, including the Tiffany Gymnasium, and years four and five branch out to projects at other schools throughout the district.
The Springfield News-Sun has covered ongoing discussions about Springfield City School District athletic facilities, including debates over where football should be played.