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School board conditionally approves field improvements

WORTHINGTON -- On the condition grass will be guaranteed if good watering practices are followed, the Independent School District 518 Board approved a reconstruction project for the school's baseball field, which would include an irrigation system and seeding.

Worthington High School principal Paul Karelis said the reconstruction of the field is a safety issue, and the work being planned could eliminate tipping, fouling and bad bouncing.

Turf grass would be removed and the field graded, the pitcher's mound would be removed, the infield would be tiled, irrigation would be added to the outfield and a new mound would be constructed. Some of the turf grass might be able to be reclaimed, he said.

With approval of the conditional request, the contractor would hopefully start as soon as possible, and the dry weather is actually helpful.

Interested parties met and came up with a figure of $34,820 to fund the reconstruction process. The district has set aside $20,000, Karelis said, the Trojan Activities account would present $7,500 and the housing trust fund would contribute another $7,500.

Eight home baseball games are played each year, with potential for playoff games, VFW and Legion games are estimated at a minimum of five and the Cubs also play an estimated minimum of five games on the field. Minnesota West has also used the field periodically.

The outfield is currently uneven, the infield has lips on the back and front surfaces where the sand meets grass, and the reconstruction would eliminate these issues.

Board member Scott Rosenberg questioned whether enough water could be provided to grow new grass.

"Can we pump enough water to get it growing?" he asked.

"We hope so," Karelis replied.

After more discussion, Rosenberg still expressed doubts enough water could be pumped, especially in August and September.

"Will they reseed it at no extra cost to us of the grass doesn't take?" he asked.

Board member Mark Shepherd said he doesn't believe the school should be responsible for that cost if the grass doesn't grow. The motion to approve the project was amended, conditional upon a guarantee, as long as the school followed correct watering practices after the ground was seeded.

The board also discussed the recent events surrounding a Twitter account that purported to be part of WHS, but was full of rumors and inappropriate Tweets. Board member Linden Olson said he thought the problem was handled extremely well and in a timely manner.

Karelis said when the school moved forward with shutting down the offensive Twitter account, they contacted local law enforcement and were given excellent care and attention by Worthington Police Department Det. Sgt. Kevin Flynn.

"He called Twitter and had it shut down in hours," Karelis said.

He is concerned that whoever started the Twitter account didn't understand the implications or realize the impact of what they had done. When similar accounts popped up in other area school districts, WHS was able to help them with the steps needed to shut the Twitter feeds down quickly.

"It was very inappropriate and needed to be shut down," Karelis said. "It may have contained WHS, but did not represent our student body."

In other business, the board approved the resignations of media paraprofessional Pat Ahlberg, fourth grade teacher Chad Kremer, EDGE secretary Allison Birkey, EDGE coordinator Lindsay Anderson, EL paraprofessional Stacy Huisman, volleyball and baseball coach Ken Karwoski, Special Education teacher Ashley Chicos and paraprofessional Sarah Martin.