As the next school year approaches, so does tennis season for Jackson students. In light of this, Superintendent Phil Howard recently addressed with the Jackson City Schools Board of Education what he referred to as a "big problem" with the tennis facilities at the Jackson Area YMCA.
For many years, the district has been using the tennis courts at the YMCA free of charge. However, during the Thursday night, June 28 board meeting, Howard explained that these facilities are no longer in good enough condition to be used. Specifically, he mentioned a number of large cracks in the playing surfaces, which could potentially result in injury to students or others using the courts.
These issues have arisen, according to Howard, due to the YMCA's lack of funding to repair the tennis courts. As the organization has allowed the district to use the facilities for so long at no charge, Howard opined that the district should lend a hand in seeing the proper repairs are made.
"Now that they don't have the funds -- not that we have buku money here -- but, we have to maintain facilities for all of our other athletic programs so I think we at least need to help out in some financial way with getting those courts suitable for our kids," Howard said. "If not, we'll end up having to play all of our matches on the road."
Board member Dr. Brian Morris inquired as to what the cost of placing new tennis courts at the Jackson High School (JHS) campus would be. According to estimates obtained by Howard, Assistant Superintendent Joe Hemsley and District Treasurer Rachel Strawser, such a project would cost around $600,000. As for the cost of repairing/resurfacing the courts at the YMCA, Howard stated the district attempted to acquire at least three price quotes, but was only able to secure one.
The one cost estimate that was obtained, which would cover such work as filling all surface cracks, installing one and a half inches of blacktop, and restriping the courts, was for approximately $75,500, according to Hemsley.
Additionally, Howard explained YMCA Director Shadra Jenkins provided contact information for the last company that installed yet another special surface material for the courts. That company, Howard said, provided a price quote of approximately $20,000 for that service.
In all, Howard said bringing the tennis courts back to life would carry a cost of nearly $100,000. One question he then posed to the board was whether such a large expense could be justified given the fact that the district does not own the facilities in question. Howard stated he has mentioned to Jenkins the possibility of the district entering into some type of lease agreement for the tennis courts, which would result in the district having the right to determine who is able to use the courts.
Given the circumstances, Howard said the YMCA does not have many options in addressing this issue. He said either the courts will have to be closed altogether in order to prevent injuries and/or a lawsuit, or the YMCA can offer the district a lease agreement, thus placing the responsibility of upkeep of the facilities into the hands of the Jackson City Schools.
As tennis season is approaching, Howard requested from the board permission for himself, Hemsley and Strawser to spend an amount not to exceed $100,000 to see that the tennis courts are properly repaired. He likewise requested permission to obtain a lease agreement with the YMCA and the board unanimously approved Howard's request.