The Derry Area School Board is moving forward with improvements to Derry Stadium.

At Thursday’s regular school board meeting, directors awarded a bid for a football stadium field sod and drainage project to Unity Township-based Butz Masonry and Excavating at a cost of $234,889.64.

Butz Masonry was the lowest of seven bids for the project, board president David Krinock said. The project will be paid with district capital projects funds.

Krinock said the project will provide new sod, new dirt and the replacement of one drain. All of the facility’s other drains are in “good shape,” he noted. Other upgrades will include new football and soccer goalposts.

The project is expected to be completed before the start of football season, Krinock said. District officials said there is currently no timetable for when work will get underway.

“It shows how big football is in high school, not just Derry but everywhere,” Krinock said. “… I think it’s a good thing. I’ve always liked grass and we get a lot of people who come in here with turf fields and they love playing here.”

In October, the school board approved an agreement with Axis Architecture to explore possible field improvements at the stadium after individuals with the Derry Area Midget Football program expressed concerns about poor field conditions at the stadium. Parents with the program said one early-season game had to be moved to Uniontown.

Derry Area officials said last summer’s heavy rains and excessive Poa Annua saturated the field. Poa Annua, or annual bluegrass, is one of the most common grassy weeds in the United States. It usually dies off in the summer when the weather gets hot, leaving behind bare spots.

District director of buildings and grounds Gene Stofko said at the time that school workers had been dealing with the issue “for 12 to 15 years and (in 2019), weather conditions have made it even worse.”

Athletic director Brett Miller said previously that workers regularly fertilize and seed Derry Stadium’s grass surface. They try to seed the field at least four times per year, but last season planned on seeding it “almost after every game.”

Miller said previously he wasn’t sure if anything has been done to the field in terms of drainage or irrigation since it was first installed in 1971.

Each year, Miller said officials check the field up to twice a week starting in early July and he said the field was in “nice condition” around that time last summer. Later in July, however, workers noticed some browning in the end zone near the grandstand side and eventually the browning began to spread.

Based on athletic department calculations, Krinock said nearly 60 school-sanctioned sporting events were held at Derry Stadium during the 2018-19 school year. That total does not include games that were canceled because of weather conditions or other reasons, he said.

Krinock said the field’s surface largely held up for varsity sports this past fall, save for a brief wet stretch.

“The varsity season, we didn’t have much of a problem,” he said. “I don’t want to say the midget organization prompted us to do anything — we knew about it — but I will give them kudos for coming (to the school board).”

Krinock said the district looked into the possibility of installing artificial FieldTurf before deciding to upgrade Derry Stadium’s grass surface.

“We have a lot of big needs in our school district,” he said. “Artificial turf is to keep up with the Joneses and we don’t have the money to keep up with the Joneses. We can’t rightfully do that (right now).”

Near the close of Thursday’s meeting, Krinock told the board that the district’s unpaid lunch debt has reached $48,000.

“We’ve been getting a lot of grief about lunches and people complaining about this and that,” he said of conversations among district residents, most of it being done on social media. “I had one person say, ‘Lunches should be free.’ Are you serious? If lunches were free, we’d have to double our taxes.

“We still feed our kids. We don’t give them a bag lunch if they don’t have money — we give them a hot meal,” he said. “We just want people to know that if you have a question, come here and speak with us.”

Also discussed:

  • The board heard a presentation on districtwide data results for students at Grandview Elementary, along with the middle and high schools;
  • Student Elizabeth Kott said during the meeting’s public comment period that school officials should look into further revising the district’s policy for memorials for deceased students;
  • The board heard first readings on eight policy revisions, three new policies and the deletion of one policy.

In other business, the board approved:

  • Employee No. 441 for a 12-week intermittent family medical leave, effective Jan. 20. Superintendent Eric Curry said the board, citing privacy rights, recently decided to forgo listing names of employees taking medical, child bearing and related leaves. Previously, those employees were listed by name on the board’s monthly regular meeting agendas;
  • Employee No. 268 for a one-year child bearing leave and 12-week family medical leave, effective May 19 or date of disability as determined by her physician;
  • Employee No. 295 for a 12-week family medical leave, effective Feb. 14;
  • Resignation of Jay Kline, because of retirement, effective May 31;
  • Employee No. 146 for a 12-week family medical leave, effective April 16;
  • To employ production crew and orchestra members and to approve volunteer production crew members for “Les Miserables” to be paid from the district musical proceeds account;
  • Change the status of Kirsten Crowe from an extended day-to-day substitute to a long-term substitute, effective Feb. 15;
  • Marty Rovedatti-Jackson as an additional PAL for the 2019-20 school year;
  • Change the status of Denise Tarr from an eight-hour afternoon custodian to an afternoon lead custodian at Grandview Elementary School;
  • For Eric Curry to attend the PARSS Annual Conference from April 29-May 1 in State College at an approximate cost of $766 to be paid by the district;
  • For Rod Bisi, Kristine Higgs, Jen Faas, Amy Casey and Alisa Gardner to attend the Title I Improving Schools Performing Conference in Pittsburgh on Jan. 27 at an approximate cost of $136.60 to be paid by the district;
  • To authorize the board secretary to advertise for bids for athletic supplies for the 2020-21 school year;
  • To rescind the employment of Josh Heckathorn as assistant girls’ soccer coach for the 2019-20 school year. The item was previously approved at the Aug. 1, 2019, school board meeting;
  • Change the status of Lauren Felix from half girls’ varsity assistant basketball coach to full assistant coach for the 2019-20 school year;
  • David Krinock and Rich Gruska (both varsity baseball) and Randy Glick and Morgan Kelly (varsity softball) as volunteer coaches for the 2019-20 school year;
  • Brian Thomas, Thomas Kelly and Nathan Matrunick as assistant co-varsity baseball coaches for the 2019-20 school year;
  • Rob Doperak as assistant varsity softball coach for the 2019-20 school year;
  • To request 2018 Pennsylvania personal income tax records from the state Department of Revenue for verification of local wage tax;
  • To authorize the board secretary to advertise bids for general, art and custodial supplies for the 2020-21 school year;
  • Activity reports as of December 2019;
  • To accept the audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, as presented by Zelonkofske Axelrod LLC;
  • To enter into an agreement with Upcycle LLC to dispose of outdated and unused electronics equipment, at no cost to the district, and to provide the district with a certificate of destruction;
  • A district resolution in support of charter school reform in Pennsylvania;
  • A tuition agreement with New Story Schools;
  • Memorandum of understanding with the Derry Borough Police Department;
  • For district administration to conduct the parent/guardian school climate survey offered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education at no cost to the district. The results will be used for a subsequent comprehensive plan;
  • Field trips and afterschool activities;
  • Dr. Tracy McNelly as the 2019-20 external evaluator for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant at a cost of $15,000 to be paid with grant funds;
  • To rent four backdrop rentals from Theatre World Backdrops at a cost of $2,187.07;
  • Updates to the school security and benefits agreement;
  • A contract with Rampart Security Systems for a change in security devices, from land line to cell service;
  • For the physical education department to host the annual Scrambled Legs 5K race on May 17;
  • For the administration to obtain quotes for visual-audio equipment for the high school audion, using capital projects funds;
  • A contract with Comcast Business for backup phone services;
  • To award a PEPPM Mini-bid Category 2 E-rate contact for funding year 2020 to Synaptic Systems Cloudcast Computing in the amount of $19,874.98 for the purchase and installation of wireless access points in the middle school;
  • To award the bid for gasoline in the 2020-21 school year, per the district’s quantity request, to Petroleum Traders Corporation at a fixed rate of $1.8545 per gallon. The 2019-20 school year price was $1.7286 per gallon;
  • The 2020-21 high school curriculum planning guide;
  • Mary Carnahan to the bus drivers list;
  • Motion to opt out of participation in the Demand Response Program through KeyTex Energy.

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