With a generous donation possibly coming to Midway High School for a fieldhouse, Principal Monty Strickland is ready to get the ball rolling.
Strickland and Lou Nelon, executive director of Auxiliary Services for Sampson County Schools, requested that the board give them the green light to move forward on a project with an estimated cost of $550,000. A large chunk is expected to come from a single gift. Within the next 30 days, he is expecting to get a commitment letter from the donor who was not identified at the meeting.
In addition to the donation, Strickland requested funds from the district and the permission to begin a fundraising campaign to help offset the cost of the fieldhouse.
“With that said, we have people who are ready and willing to go out there and help raise money for this project,” Strickland said.
Midway’s principal said the fieldhouse project is something that’s been kicked into high gear within the last few months. Some of the selling points include a weight room and classroom.
“Midway was built in 2007 and we have two teachers who are on carts now going around to classrooms,” Strickland said. “This would help alleviate that problem.”
A weight room inside the building could be converted to a classroom or for the usage for students. The idea is to construct the fieldhouse toward the school building, in between the concession stand and the gate where spectators enter for the baseball and softball fields. Doing so will provide easier access to a gym entrance. It will be used by both male and female students for various sports such as football, softball and track.
During the Tuesday meeting, an architect issue and the transferring of plans were also discussed. Board member Glenn Tart made a request for district officials to seek more bids, since only one was being offered. Timing was another factor questioned. Strickland said it could be a year to see some type of progress.
“With the money, the commitment that we have and what the board has, I think we can have a shell,” he said about the building.
Plans have to go through state educational offices, but Strickland said the biggest piece of the plan is the commitment from the Midway community.
“I think we’re somewhere around 70 percent funded now,” he said.
Strickland said one of his duties for the project would include taking the plans to a fundraising committee to raise funds.
“I think we can make that happen,” he said.
Board member Telfair Simpson alluded to how he would like to see the project 100 percent funded, with concrete plans instead of wondering what is going to happen a year or two down the road.
“Times are tough and whether we have money to help you are not remains to be seen,” Simpson said.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy agreed about having money in hand before proceeding.
“It doesn’t need to start until all money is raised and ready to go,” Bracy said about having enough to finish the project.
Board member Kim Schmidlin added that it’s a need for local students, while bringing up weather elements.
“You have halftime for a football game and there’s no facility for our kids to get out the rain for halftime,” Schmidlin said. “I see it as need, not just for football, but we have a lot of outdoor sports.”
The Sampson County Board of Education is scheduled to officially approve the decision at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, at the Central Office Auditorium, 437 Rowan Road.
“I just don’t see us tabling this or letting this go when you have someone willing to say, ‘I’m going to pay half of it,’” Strickland said. “This is a big asset for our school system.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.