A new junior high gymnasium is coming to Hilltop.

Monday, the Millcreek-West Unity Local Board of Education agreed to move forward with a resolution to approve construction documents and authorize advertising for and accepting bids for a new gymnasium addition.

Plans call for building a junior high gym, junior high locker rooms, a weight room and storage. The addition will allow Hilltop junior high sports teams to compete in their own gym, with over 450 seats available for spectators, according to Millcreek-West Unity Superintendent Jim Wyse.

“Our junior high students and athletes will have their own locker rooms. This new facility also provides space for archery, which is a growing club sport with over 70 participants in grades five to 12. Our current weight room will be turned into a K-12 choir room, which is sorely needed, and the room used as a choir room will provide two intervention classrooms,” Wyse said.

He said later this month, the board will advertise for bids, and anticipates qualified bids will come in under the $2.9 million estimate.

Wyse said in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the board and school administration have placed a renewed focus on the schools’ priority — the health and safety of students. In evaluating Hilltop facilities through that “COVID lens” for health and safety purposes, Wyse said the decision was made to add a new junior high gym.

“Our second gym is too small, with virtually no spectator seating, and it does not have any locker rooms. It is a good practice facility, but it’s not adequate for competitions,” he said, noting that at the time the current facility was built, state funding was reduced and square footage had to be cut.

“Therefore, bleachers, locker rooms, storage and other areas were reduced or eliminated to stay within budget. Having only two locker rooms — one for male and one for female — for all PE classes, sports and visiting teams is difficult at best in ‘normal times,’ but it is especially challenging during a pandemic,” Wyse said.

Funding will come from a combination of federal COVID money and district reserves, he said.

REORGANIZATION

In other action, current board president Heather Jones was voted to serve as president again in 2022, while Brian Wieland was voted vice president.

The board also took care of other annual reorganizational duties, including setting meeting times and dates throughout the year. One change is the February board meeting moves from Feb. 14 to the Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. in the library.

The board also:

• Established a board Education Service Fund in the amount of $3,000;

• Set board members’ compensation at $100 per meeting for the 16 regular meetings for 2022;

• Authorized board member Randy Mahlman as legislative liaison;

• Authorized Steve Riley and Laurie Worline as superintendent pro-tern for 2022.

• Set various committee assignments and superintendent and treasurer responsibilities;

• Approved a donation of hats, gloves and scarves from Living Hope Free Methodist Church.

• Went into a 40-minute closed, executive session to discuss security, with no action taken upon return to open session.

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