Poles Prove Problem

Construction butted heads with tradition during Monday’s meeting of the Warren County School District board’s Physical Plant & Facilities Committee.

“There was a request submitted through the principal’s office and music department at Eisenhower to relocate two light poles,” Director of Buildings & Grounds Services Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht said, explaining that each light pole has a concrete base eight feet tall and two feet wide with six feed buried.

He explained that the lights were installed towards the middle of the lot and that “it was in the design that way specifically. Under the building code (we) have to provide a certain amount of light.”

The problem is that the light poles are 103 feet apart, which has proved problematic when the band practices, especially considering that the bandstand does not fall evenly within that 103 feet.

Kennerknecht said the workaround for the issue would be installing four lights, instead of the two installed now, on the corners of the lot. The change would cost $32,000.

“I rejected that,” Kennerknecht said. “It went to the superintendent. The superintendent also rejected the notion.”

He said there is “ample room to have activity between the poles” and that administration elected to bring “it to the board to let the board review.”

“The band can’t practice on the football field because of the football team,” Board President Arthur Stewart said. Was an analysis done on the space they need? The bottom line is there needs to be a place to practice.”

The board and administration then spent some time detailing alternate practice sites the back parking lot, practice football field, softball field and soccer field.

Kennerknecht asked how many students were in the band. When told there were 18 or 19 at a recent exhibition, he said “It’s a small band.”

He continued to make his case.

“(We) have to comply with regulations… (and be) economical; that’s why there are two poles instead of four.”

“Somehow it got to us,” Stewart said. “(We) need to make a practice field for the marching band and something reasonably cost-efficient. It doesn’t seem we have enough (information).” He asked whether the alternate practice sites would work.

“It depends on who you ask,” Kennerknecht said.

“If you move the band practice to another area, two things, first of all they mark the parking lot (for) their routine,” board member Tom Knapp said. “Second, (the) band director’s podium will not be there for them to watch. (We) will have to build a whole new band director’s stand.”

He said a request was made to leave the space open during the construction planning process.

“It’s a code issue,” Kennerknecht said. “You also gave us a budget to accommodate that. Everybody can’t have everything they want in all circumstances” and still meet budget.

Superintendent Dr. William Clark noted the band used scaffolding when practicing at Russell for a band stand and may be able to do so again.

“I think any of those (locations) would be sufficient,” he added. “The request came in. We both denied it. We wanted to make sure there was ample opportunity for it to be vetted.”

Stewart said that it “feels to me like it (the request) is coming in a vacuum. (I) asked for what space did they used to have, what is available. If, in analyzing that, the band director says that is not adequate space, I would like to know why.”

“In fairness to Norbert (Kennerknecht), a board member discussed it at central office,” Board Vice-president Donna Zariczny said, arguing that it was appropriate to bring the discussion into a public setting.

“(The) information we have presented here is not complete. From a business standpoint, a $32,000 change order, that’s not an addition to the project. We’re not adding a space or some added value to the project. (We would be) changing work that has already been done… paying to do work and re-do it,” Zariczny added.

Stewart suggested that acting without an administration recommendation is challenging.

“Our recommendation is denying the request,” Clark said, indicating he is willing to gather further information for the board to review on this issue.

Zariczny suggested that it come before the board at a future meeting as an informational item.