June 26, 2017 10:28 PM
The city of Chisholm and the school district have long had a "handshake agreement" so that sanctioned sports teams could use the city's fields and arenas. At Monday's school board meeting, directors took the first step to making it a formal arrangement.
Previously, the district paid the city $15,000 per year to use the sports complex. Plus, the district footed the utility bill. However, with some needed improvements on the horizon, the city asked ISD 695 to pay $45,000 per year.
According to City Administrator Katherine Bobich, The $45,000 breaks down in thirds. $15,000 goes toward use of the space. Another $15,000 covers utilities. And the last $15,000 will be matched by the city for capital improvements, like upgrading bathroom and shower facilities.
"The school has been paying their portion for specific use. However, that's not enough. I think all of our communities across the Iron Range - it's resources. We don't have the resources to do it," Chisholm City Councilor Kevin Scaia said. "So we asked the school to step up, keep it here, let's get this place fixed up."
The complex includes a curling rink, football field, track, several baseball and softball fields, a hockey arena, tennis courts and volleyball courts.
An idea had been floated that athletes could be bussed to neighboring Cherry or Hibbing to use their facilities, but the board said it had no intention of doing that because transportation would likely be too expensive. Chisholm boys and girls hockey players already commute to Hibbing for practices and games because they have a joint team.
"We need to have a place for our kids to play their athletic events. We absolutely have to have that," School Board Chair Bob Rahja said. "So you try to transport kids anywhere else to play, and you're at the other district's mercy. So we think this is reasonable."
Rahja said he originally thought the $45,000 was too high of a number, but he felt it was the best option. According to Rahja, the additional amount can come from a levy.
"We couldn't levy for utilities, so what we thought was it would be easier to do a ... $45,000 levy spread out over 10 years," Rahja said. "So it's not so painful that people on fixed incomes can't afford it."
It's worth it, Rahja said, and there was plenty of community support for keeping sports practices and games in town.
"It's a basketball town, and it's an athletic town," Rahja said. "We have a lot of legends that have played in these buildings and on these fields, so it's a big deal, Chisholm sports."
"That facility has been here since the Great Depression," Scaia said. "It's always been the school and the city as teammates. We don't want to lose that. We don't want to lose the history."
The district will be responsible for cutting grass and painting lines during sports seasons. Plus, it will be liable for anything broken or damaged while district-sanctioned sporting events are going on.
Monday's verbal agreement was the first step. A formal agreement will be drafted, and the board will give final approval when that's done.
The $45,000 deal would for one year, and the board will take it up again next summer. That's partially because Chisholm's new superintendent, Janey Blanchard, starts her position July 1, and the board wants to give her a chance to weigh in after a year.
Updated: June 26, 2017 10:28 PM
Created: June 26, 2017 09:31 PM
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