By Sarah Vogelsong
Caroline High School athletes are set to make waves next fall, thanks to a vote by the School Board at their June 9 meeting to spend $63,351 to color the rubberized surface of the new track blue.
This number, supplied by Charlottesville-based Precision Sports Services, the contractor in charge of the track replacement project, includes the cost of coloring not only the track itself, but also those areas reserved for field events such as the long jump, high jump, and pole vault.
The School Board at its May 28 special meeting approved Precision Sports Services’ $285,778 bid for the track replacement project and an extra $50,000 to color the track blue. The $63,000 quote for the job of coloring the track blue comes in $13,000 above that allocation. Precision Sports also quoted a price of $49,000 to color the track red, which Randy Jones, chief executive officer of architecture and engineering firm OWPR, the company overseeing the three school renovation projects approved by county voters in last November’s $25 million bond referendum, specified was “not a true red—more a terracotta, brick color.”
Jones told the School Board that the technical committee to whom he had presented the numbers had recommended that in light of the costs, the $50,000 intended for the coloring be reallocated toward other projects at the high school.
“I am totally against that,” said Chairman and Bowling Green district representative George Spaulding. “I mean, if that’s for that track, that’s for that track. It’s not for something else.”
The Board split over the question of whether the blue was worth its price tag, with Madison district representative Shawn Kelley being the project’s most vehement supporter.
“I’m in favor of paying the difference, because I think our students and I think the people of Caroline County need something to be proud of, and this makes a statement of the direction we are taking our school system into the future,” Kelley said. “I’m tired of settling for second best, especially when we’re so far under budget on the line item.”
“That color’s not going to make them run any faster,” Port Royal district representative Tinka Harris argued. “We’ve got a top-notch track team, but I’m looking at the budget too.”
Superintendent of schools Gregory Killough pointed out that the track replacement project has consistently come in under budget. The original estimate for the project was $600,000, which was lowered to $400,000 when the contractor determined that the track’s base did not need to be replaced. The current contract for $285,000 is significantly below even that estimate.
“So really, there’s a $315,000 savings,” Killough said.
The board asked Jones whether he had a quote for the cost of coloring only the track and not the field event areas blue, but he responded that although he had asked, Precision Sports had not yet returned a price, although they had assured him that they could still not get the cost under $50,000.
Ultimately, five members of the board voted in favor of the project, with Harris voting against.