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New track in the works for Gainesville High School
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One of the larger patches can be seen on the Gainesville High School track in the foreground. Smaller patches and cracks in the surface are readily visible all around the track. It will be resurfaced in the next three months. - photo by RON BRIDGEMAN

Gainesville High School’s track is about to get a makeover — one that is critically needed, Athletic Director Billy Kirk said.

The city school board on Monday night approved resurfacing the track at a cost of $168,200. The money would come from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV, Chris Griner, Gainesville schools chief financial officer, said.

Kirk said Tuesday “there’s just so many people who use it.”

He said many of the high school’s athletic teams use the track for conditioning. The middle school track team, Centennial Arts Academy physical education classes, physical education classes at the high school and members of the public also use it.

Kirk told the board the high school and middle school track programs have about 300 participants — boys and girls.

The board awarded the contract to Hellas Construction of Austin, Texas.

The track will be a polyurethane surface, about 1/2-inch thick, Kirk said Tuesday. The track surface is about 20 years old, Kirk and Griner said.

Griner said the recommended price is one of three options the company presented. It is the middle price, he said, and the one “we felt was the best.”

The new surface also will be red, he said.

Kirk said repairing the track has been “in the back of my mind since I got here.” He started as athletic director in June 2015.

He pointed out the track has been patched repeatedly. More than 20 patches — small and larger round areas and longer cracks in the surface — were evident Tuesday at the track.

The contract also calls for the resurfacing to be completed by Jan. 16. Kirk explained Tuesday that date is the first day track teams can practice under state rules.

He said he expects work to start in the next couple of weeks. He said Hellas would be pulling the current surface off.

“We’re not going to miss a beat,” with practice or P.E. classes, Kirk said.

He said he texted coach Wayne Jones from the meeting, and “he’s got two (JV meets) scheduled, just like that.”

“To say that it was needed is an understatement,” Kirk said about the resurfacing.

Board member Sammy Smith asked about expanding the track to eight lanes and adding electronic scorekeeping.

Kirk said that could be done, but a rough cost estimate is about $600,000. He explained Tuesday that a retaining wall would have to be built above Century Place, which connects Gainesville High School and Centennial, and fill dirt put in to provide room for the extra two lanes. The curb around the track also would have to come out for the two lanes.

Smith suggested a plan for future expansion be developed.

Kirk touted the track not for athletics but for students.

He pointed to the numbers of people who use it regularly, and, he said, “When they (students) participate, their behavior problems go down and their academic achievement goes up. That’s a proven fact.”

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