Voters in the Pattonville School District overwhelmingly passed a bond issue on Nov. 2 designed to upgrade facilities district wide. The bond issue will particularly impact Pattonville's athletic teams and physical education classes from Kindergarten through graduation.
Pattonville High School will replace its 40-year-old stadium and update its boys' and girls' locker areas. The district will also replace the main gym's wooden floor, install a pool facility and replace its existing stadium with one that includes new locker rooms, all-weather artificial turf and an improved track.
Pattonville Heights and Holman Middle Schools will both get new tracks.
Bob Hebrank, Pattonville's Activities Director, recently gave a breakdown of the improvements and additions at the high school.
Take the main gym. "The floor is on its last leg. It definitely needs to be replaced," he said. The floor has lost its cushion, Hebrank continued, adding that its rough on student's knees and legs.
As for the addition of the pool, Hebrank pointed out that it would be a valuable asset to more than just the high school swimming and diving teams — but that's just part of it.
"Our physical education classes can use this, and that's one of the biggest reasons why this is going to be so big," he said. "We'll have the opportunity to teach life saving skills, and not only to high school kids but to elementary and middle school kids down the road as well. So much can come from the pool, but it's all still in the planning stages right now."
Currently the Pirates swimmers swim at Bridgeton Community Center's indoor pool, but Hebrank said adding an on-campus pool was important. Hebrank said Bridgeton has been great, but their swimming facility is geared to an older clientel. The water's temperature and humidity are too high for swim training.
"It's very hot," Hebrank said. "It was necessary for us to get out of Bridgeton. We need our own place to train and condition."
The football stadium, now 40 years old, may appear from a distance to be in fine condition, but upon closer inspection Hebrank says that is not at all the case.
"The facility just got old. Concrete leaks over time, and that's what has happened," he said. "That's created mold, and the whole structure has just started to come apart. This used to be one of the best facilities, but now it's just gotten old. We can't use the concession stands and the locker rooms are poor. On top of that, we can't fit everyone in. We don't have enough space for a student section and there is no space for the band."
Inside that new stadium will be all-weather turf, which replaces the old grass field. Hebrank says the new surface will come in handy for a variety of reasons.
"On the field itself, we have three football teams that use it as well as our PE classes." he said. "The irrigation system is old, the drainage system is old, and the crown on the field makes it really hard to grow grass. The new turf is going to mean so much. Not only can the football teams practice on the field, but the band can now practice on a lined field. It's going to be nice."
As for the 2011 football season, it appears the Pirates will almost definitely not be back in the old stadium. Even if construction hasn't started by the beginning of the summer, it's unlikely that it would be delayed all the way through the end of the football season.