At the school board meeting on March 25, Superintendent Jeff Harding submitted a draft policy for the installation of stadium lights and a new public address system. The board is in the process of reviewing the document and will decide whether to move forward with the proposal.
“I wrote the policy after many meeting with neighbors, athletics directors, and music directors,” Harding said. “Since our meeting in the theatre on Nov. 13, I have been gathering information, working on drafting language, and looking at other policies from other school districts.”
If the policy is approved, the board will then decide on which type of environmental impact report will be submitted to the city for the field lights.
According to Harding, there is a lengthy environmental report option, as well as one that is much shorter. The condensed version would potentially allow the process to move along more rapidly.
The board would also be responsible for allocating funds for construction. Harding is confident that the policy will be supported by all of the major stakeholders involved and that strides towards field lights will be made in the near future.
“We have found common ground with the neighbors on the type of equipment we are looking at installing,” Harding said. “The lights are LED and are very focused. The PA system we are considering is specifically designed to reduce the impact on neighbors.”
Harding also states that the neighbors have expressed their appreciation for the school district’s willingness to create a compromise. The school is working diligently to ensure the field lights and PA system minimize disruption of nearby houses.
“While this is a compromise in how the lights would be used, I think it satisfied the interests of the school and the neighbors,” Harding said.
The field lights that are under consideration are the same ones that were recently installed by Crittenden Middle School, according to Harding. People in the district office also visited Monta Vista High School to examine their field lights and PA system.
The district has done extensive research, and also brought in a sound engineer to help design the updated PA system.
While the district is making steps towards the installation of field lights, there are several components to the process that must cooperate before lights can be installed. First, the board needs to approve the draft policy or make amends if necessary. Then, an environmental impact statement must be written and submitted. After that, an architect must draw the plans and submit them. There is usually a very long turnaround time for them to be approved. Then, the district must find a contractor to help begin construction.
“If everything lines up, it is conceivable that the field lights could be installed as early as the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year,” Harding said.