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CUSD: CHS track upgrade too expensive now
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The Ceres Unified School District was awarded a $100,000 grant a year ago to help pay for the installation of an all-weather track at Ceres High School.

The district decided to not accept the grant and move forward with the project after several companies submitted costly price quotes.

"It appears that the track is going to cost us more than $700,000 to put in, which is more than double the original estimate," said Scott Siegel, assistant superintendent of Business Services for CUSD. "At this point, we are weighing our options."

The district was willing to contribute $200,000 to $300,000 to the project, which was supposed to be completed this summer.

"It was a situation where we were going to have to spend more than $300,000 to $400,000 to get $100,000," Siegel said. "It wasn't a good deal."

The district received no bids for the project. Price quotes were submitted after the May 6 deadline.

"We're not in a really good bidding environment," Siegel said. "There's a lot of jobs and not a lot of contractors. The price of construction has also skyrocketed over the last year."

Drew Brown, head coach of the Ceres High track and field team, is disappointed.

"I heard it's not going to happen because the cost is going to be more than they anticipated," Brown said. "It would have been huge for our program and the community."

Ceres' coaches have had to cancel practices in the past thanks in part to flooding on the east end of the track.

"There was one year when we lost 50 percent of our practice days to rain," Brown said.

Brown had already started to make plans for the future, which included developing a youth track program and hosting more meets.

"We still want to do that," Brown said. "With the all-weather surface, it makes it easier because you can use the facility year-round.

Thousands of people would have been served.

"The P.E. department can use it," Brown said. "A lot of other sports can use it for conditioning and speed work. "You can rent the facility out to other schools.

"It would be a district track."

Siegel will meet with school architect Gary Mallory and a couple of staff members from the high school to create alternative plans.

"Maybe there are some other things we can do to improve the situation without going all the way to an all-weather track," Siegel said. "We're looking at possibly replacing the dust track with red cinder."

The district is considering installing a new storm drainage system and electrical conduits across the football field and modifying the existing irrigation system. The long and triple jump run ways, which Siegel called irreparable, might also be refurbished.

"We would like to get those issues resolved," Siegel said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier