A new stadium partnership between Drake University and DMPS may be grabbing all of the headlines, but exciting news for our individual high school sports facilities is on the horizon.
A committee established by the Des Moines Public School Board of Directors to provide guidance and recommendations for investments in athletic facilities to address current and future needs presented their final report to the Board during a work session on Tuesday, May 4.
The 38-page Athletic Facilities Committee Findings Report covered everything from what the committee considers deficient (potential health or safety issues) to aspirational projects (think partnerships and new facilities).
“The students are at a decided disadvantage in the facilities needed to practice and compete at the same level of other teams in the Central Iowa region, in their conference and in comparable districts throughout the state of Iowa,” said co-chairs Jeff Russell and Maria Alonzo in the report. “And while there has been 20 years of investment in the physical infrastructure of classrooms and buildings, athletics clearly has a facilities debt – a lack of maintenance, upgrading and modernizing.”
“The work this committee has done gives the school board the opportunity to show athletes across Des Moines they are valued, and their growth in extra-curricular activities deserves to be invested in,”added Russell and Alonzo.
The report included a link to a detailed matrix of repairs and upgrades needed throughout the district’s athletic facilities. The committee designed the file to be sorted and updated as needed. The project’s research was provided by 2 THE TOP and the project facilitated by The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University.
“We need to have more discussion around the Board table about how we maximize existing resources to the benefit of this plan,” said Board member Teree Caldwell-Johnson following the presentation. “But then also where the gaps are and where we might need to identify other resources that need to be brought to bear so that we can accelerate the opportunity to take advantage of this body of work.”
DMPS students involved in the project, Elisabeth Saunders (Roosevelt) and Jerad Fischer (Hoover), said they served as contributors to the project so the next generation of DMPS student athletes have the opportunity to train and compete in environments that promote success.
“The work this committee has done gives the school board the opportunity to show athletes across Des Moines they are valued, and their growth in extra-curricular activities deserves to be invested in,” the two said in a statement to the Board. “School sports have made us better athletes, students, friends, and people. We truly believe investing in athletics will have a positive impact on our athletes, schools, and communities for years to come.”
The Board plans to review the report in more detail and make a plan for moving forward.