Tiger Field Project Bids Approved, Facilities Plan to be Reviewed

On a 4-2 vote with one abstention, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved the bids for the renovation of Valley High School’s Tiger Field.

The project includes a new track surface, press box, long jump and shot put/discus area, sound system, sidewalks, increased seating at the field with new bleachers, additional lighting to extend the hours of operation, and more. Construction will begin this summer, with substantial completion of the project scheduled for August.

New field turf will be considerably wider at 225 feet than the current grass field, which is 180 feet, and will allow more physical education classes to be held outside even when the ground is wet, which currently is not possible according to Valley High School Athletics Director Brad Rose.

The Board awarded the construction contract to Elder Corporation of Des Moines, Iowa on the basis of its low total bid of $3,309,500. Revenue from the state sales tax will pay for the project. According to Iowa law, these funds can only be used for construction projects and can not be used for general operating costs, including salaries.

Board member Liz Cox voted against awarding the bid stating that she felt the bids were high and the district could get better prices bidding in December with construction starting next summer.  Board member Melinda Dunnwald also voted against awarding the bids. Board member Jill Caton Johnson abstained stating that she did not have enough information about the bidding process.

During the School Board meeting, teachers from Westridge Elementary expressed concern with the field project and noted that kindergarten classrooms at their school have inadequate instructional space. Operations Director Eric Smith, who has met with staff members at the school, acknowledged these concerns and reported that this summer the administration would like to review the district’s 10-year facilities plan, current space needs in the district’s buildings, and bring a recommendation regarding the plan to the Board this fall.