Padded bleachers may be replaced

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 4/4/01.

The school has until Dec. 31 to get its bleachers in compliance with the state law mandating smaller gaps and better railings as safety measures.

The current plan - according to a committee report to the school board last week - is to replace the football bleachers and the east side of bleachers in the high school gym. Retrofitting will be needed to get the west side of the high school bleachers, the middle school bleachers, and even the elementary bleachers into compliance.

The football bleachers, which have wide openings, are unrepairable, and will have to be replaced. This could be done in time for this fall, but the school could use the current bleachers for one more season. Either way, the old bleachers will have to be removed by the end of the year.

The problem on the east side of the gym are the popular bleachers with padded green seats and back rests. The bleachers are fine, but having these in the middle of the other sets leaves gaps on the sides.

Double railings would need to be installed as well as somehow blocking the gaps. "To bring those up to code, we'd have to put in a tremendous amount of retrofitting," superintendent Howard Caldwell told the school board.

He estimated the cost of retrofitting at over half the amount of replacing them, making new bleachers a better option.

The plan would be to replace that whole section with new bleachers. The school board wants to use a model with backrests, but only the first five rows would have backrests immediately, due to the cost. More backrests could be added in the future.

The high school gym, according to this plan, would have new bleachers on the east or home side, and the existing wood bleachers on the west or visiting side. The gym would lose some of its uniform look, but "right now we just can't afford to replace both sides," said Caldwell.

The existing high school bleachers will need to have new railings installed. The middle school bleachers also will need new railings.

In the elementary school, a plexiglass partition will be needed between the bottom railing and the floor to prevent people from falling, or jumping, to the gym floor.

Retrofitting and additions will need to be in place by the first of the year.

The total cost to the district of the retrofitting and new bleachers is expected to be around $115,000, according to Caldwell. The district will likely use a health and safety levy to cover the cost. Using that, the state will pick up at least a third of the cost.

Return to Archives