By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — In a special meeting of the Marshfield School Board held Jan. 23, board members agreed to contract with a consultant to determine public interest in financial support of the proposed athletic facilities upgrades.
During the meeting, board member Dale Yakaites expressed the need for a feasibility study, “I think what we need to have first, rather than having that, ‘OK, let’s hire a fundraiser,’ have him or her go out there and start talking to people about how much money they would like to give. I think there is a step in front of that. I think there is really an honest approach to this by people in town.”
“We can’t do this ourselves. It is going to have to be a professional. The school district cannot fund this. There is no way,” he added.
“You can’t just hire somebody to do a feasibility study without knowing your end goal,” said board member and Finance Committee chair Amber Leifheit. “You have to be able to say to this person, ‘We are thinking that we want to raise $10 million. We are thinking we want to raise $6 million,’ or whatever. You have to give them a ballpark plan and a ballpark idea, and then they approach the stakeholders that you tell them about, and then they come back and say, ‘Well, I think talking to everyone, maybe you can raise $6 million,’ or maybe they will come back and say, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s $15 (million).’ Then we can adjust the plan, but we have to give them something to work with.”
Plans for the athletic facility upgrades had previously been arranged into phases on how they could be systematically accomplished.
Phase 1 addressed work on a baseball diamond west of Marshfield High School and softball field across the street from the school, Phase 2 included a high school multisport stadium, Phase 3 was a practice soccer and football field west of the high school as well as additional softball and practice fields on Madison Elementary School property, Phase 4 involved construction of additional parking near the Tiny Tiger Intergenerational Center, Phase 5 included work on Marshfield Middle School track and fields, and Phase 6 involved interior athletic spaces at the high school.
The phases were further broken down into tiers, which determined what was necessary for functionality of the athletic facilities.
“After review all of those items, the board determined to take what was called Phase 1, the baseball diamond and softball; Phase 2, the multisports complex; and Phase 5, the middle school needs, and group them into a project,” explained Marshfield School District Superintendent Dee Wells. “The others are equally valuable to the athletics and future athletics of the district, but this would then be called Phase 1 of the athletic project.
“When they added (those three phases) up, it came out roughly around $10.5 million, and that would be the total impact of all three put together.”
Using the $10.5 million projection, the district will contract with a feasibility consultant to determine public interest in financial support of the athletic facility upgrades. The board informally committed to matching one dollar for every two raised through the community. This would mean that $7 million would need to be fundraised privately while the district would cover the remaining $3.5 million.
District funding would be accomplished through available funds in the maintenance budget, utility and other district savings, previous board-approved capital outlay funds, and short-term borrowing.
“Administration was directed to find a feasibility consultant to do the work for the district, hopefully within the next 30 or so days,” said Wells. “The money for that feasibility study has been budgeted. It was previously budgeted several finance meetings ago.”