A determination by the state that a sprinkler system is necessary for the new Great Crossing High School bleacher area has left district personnel coming up with alternative seating and concession plans for games this fall.

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub said the state Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction determined the area under the bleachers was a “concourse” and needed a sprinkler system.

“It’s more of a disappointment than anything,” Hub said about having to come up with alternative plans necessary to use the facility for football and soccer games as originally planned.

Hub informed the Board of Education Thursday night of the plans being put in place to accommodate the games scheduled at Great Crossing. Basically, patrons won’t have access to the area under the bleachers, or A-frame, where the concession stands and bathrooms will be.

“Freshmen football and soccer won’t have access to it, but Friday nights we are doing other things,” he said. “We will have a dedicated fire truck and crew on scene, periodic announcements will be made on evacuation procedures during the game, and we won’t use the electricity in the concession stand. But we have been bringing in food before, so we’ll bring pizza, Burger King and Chick-fil-A.”

For two freshmen football games and 10 soccer games, Hub said entrance to the concessions and grandstand will be prohibited. Patrons will use the restrooms in the field house and seating for the freshmen football games will be on the visitors’ side. Details on concessions and seating for the soccer games are still being sorted out, Hub said.

“Soccer has been using crockpots and things before,” so that is an option, he said. “We have two seating options for the bleachers for home soccer games. We have the auxiliary bleachers from Lemons Mill (Elementary) that we can bring over and place. We also have the bleachers planned for baseball and softball at the Great Crossing complex.”

The plan is to have the sprinkler system installed by the end of September, but Hub said the state gave them through the end of October to install it.

Boardmembers Jo Anna Fryman and Diana Brooker said they have heard from soccer parents after they got notification they could not use the bleachers and concession stands and wants to make sure there could be a tent available or electric to use crockpots to sell concessions.

“We already are looking at options. (Great Crossing principal) Joy (Lusby) had mentioned a carnival truck that sells food, and DT (Wells) said the FFA Alumni already has a food trailer, so that will be an opportunity,” Hub said. “We are on top of that, and that is an expense that we won’t put on the boosters. That is on us.

“We will work with the soccer folks, where do you want the bleachers, where do you want the concession trailer.”

“We need to make this as easy as possible for the freshmen and JV group and the soccer group; that it is an unfortunate situation and not their fault,” board member Susan Duncan said.

As far as the rest of athletic complex, site work is progressing as the sewer line has been connected. The hope is to get a certificate of occupancy to use the locker rooms and other areas for football and soccer by Aug. 8 as the district contract with Georgetown College ends on Aug 7.

In other construction updates, David Samokar and Tony Thomas said everything is progressing to being ready for opening day on Aug. 21.

“It is amazing and you will see construction debris and dirt and you think it has a long ways to go, but a lot of things happen in that last month,” Samokar said of Great Crossing. “Thank goodness the weather is starting to cooperate. A lot of exterior sidewalks are being put in. Paving is going on. The patio outside the cafeteria, and the greenhouse is in process.”

A lot of finishing is going on inside with final coats of paint, trophy cases being installed and signage going up, he said. Baseboards, furnishings, books on bookshelves in the media center are being installed, and classroom furniture is in with only final cleanings left. Bleachers are nearing completion in the gym and the floor will start being installed  soon.

“We will start school on time,” Samokar said. “There will be areas still needing work where the welding area got some last minute changes, and the auditorium, which we knew would be the last thing.”

Some of the landscaping will still being finished too when school opens, Hub said.

“We want to do it right the first time. We’ll see how that goes with the sod and stuff,” Hub said.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like there is anything that would keep an occupancy license from being issued, Duncan said.

 Samokar said that is the goal of the daily progress meetings to ensure that is issued.

Hub said they are working with the three principals of the schools getting major work done — Great Crossing, Creekside and Georgetown Middle — to see when they are planning their professional development and want teacher furniture in the rooms.

“All the timelines are getting met, and what is going on now, paving crews are going from project to project each day to do the appropriate work,” Hub said.

Creekside Elementary and Georgetown Middle are both progressing.

“There is less and less debris around the building,” Thomas said of Creekside. “The gym floor is going in, brackets for TV monitors are in, baseboard is needing to be placed. The kitchen looks like a kitchen.”

Playground equipment is also being placed, and the entry to the school has been put in, along with curbs. Crews are hoping the road closed sign will be moved soon.

At Georgetown Middle, much of the same is needed to be completed. The canopy covered breezeway connects the schools and gives students a clear pathway to walk. Thomas said HVAC should be going in this week and the old asbestos flooring in several classrooms has been replaced with the rubber flooring.

Better weather has been a boon to getting to the finish line. Amazingly, crews have claimed rain on 247 days since the Great Crossing project has started. There has been 73 days of rain claimed at Creekside and GMS was the most affected by the weather.

In addition, the new roof at Stamping Ground is also going in, although they have had to deal with quite a bit of insulation. Thomas said the new roof is about 30% dried in.

In other discussion:

— Larry Mitchum, who works as a bus driver, said he noticed the lack of retention of bus drivers.

“My question is why they are leaving. I submit that everyone wants a raise, but that isn’t all of it,” he said. “The bigger part is we have rules in place for children on the bus to follow. When we report somebody disobeying the rules and write them up, and this is what I’ve heard from other drivers and my feeling as well, it doesn’t go anywhere. The rules aren’t enforced, the kids get away with it and they think they run the bus.”

He said there are rules on eating on the bus, and there’s a lot of kids getting on the bus with food.

“Are they coming home with free meals for the evening? I know that is the case for some of them, and they need those meals, but there are lot picking them up whether they need it or not,” he said.

There is also a problem with vaping on the bus, Mitchum said. He offered that he is a part-time driver and volunteered to look at tapes drivers submit it and find the portions of the tape pertinent to report.

Steve McClain can be reached at smcclain@news-graphic.com.

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