First steps taken for new track at Morris High School

Morris Elementary and Saratoga districts would also contribute

A rendering of the proposed track renovation as presented to the Morris High School school board Monday. The renovation would add two lanes and new spaces for field events.[]

MORRIS – After a long absence, there could could soon be track meets again at Morris Community High School after the Morris Community High School District 101 School Board discussed combining with two feeder districts to upgrade the track at the high school.

"The current track isn't really usable," district superintendent Pat Halloran said. "It hasn't hosted a competitive track meet in over 20 years."

The total estimated cost would be for about $836,966, Halloran said, about 50 percent covered by the high school. The other 50 percent would be split by Morris School District 54 and Saratoga School District 60c.

The high school's school board did not approve anything on Monday, but saw the proposed intergovernmental agreement that would be signed between the school district. Both elementary school districts are expected to discuss it next week at their school board meetings Tuesday, Feb. 20, Halloran said. If approved by the feeder districts, the MCHS board could vote to approve the agreement in March.

"We'd share it like a unit school district," Halloran said. The proposed renovation of the track would make it an eight lane track and also renovate spaces for field events like pole vault, high jump and shot put, according to a rendering of the proposal. About $235,000 of the estimate is for drainage work around the track.

The intergovernmental agreement says the MCHS district would maintain ownership of the track and be responsible for future maintenance. A schedule for use of the facility will be agreed upon for the upcoming year. The agreement is set to last 20 years, the expected life of the track, Halloran said.

Money for the project would come from a sharing agreement the school districts made with the city of Morris several years ago, Halloran said, during a tax increment finance district extension. Annually, 40 percent of the TIF increment is shared with the school districts, he said, and put towards capital projects.

The agreement is contingent on bids for the project coming back within the budget. If everything goes according to plan, however, Halloran said the project could be complete by mid-August of 2018 and ready for track season next spring.

Other Business

The school board saw its first look at the proposed 2018-2019 calendar, which Halloran said was as close to a carry-over calendar as one could hope for.

The board also learned of the resignation of Ray Odom as coach of the high school fishing team. Odom recently came under fire after a turn on the CNBC show "The Profit," where he explained that he hosts a radio show as the racist and sexist character "Crazy Ray."

Alpha Media, the company that owns WRXQ in Coal City, the station that hosted the show, fired Odom and the company he helped found, Rayjus Outdoors, also cut ties with him.

"I don't want to shed a bad light on the program or the kids for that fact," Odom's resignation letter, dated Jan. 25, read. "In time I hope to return and continue to help the kids."