Wood BOE approves PHS auditorium seating

The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday approved installation of new seating in Parkersburg High School’s auditorium and the sale of the old chairs.

Sue Steinbeck, president of the PHS Foundation board of directors, said replacement of the auditorium seating is the second phase of a facility improvement project. In August, the foundation completed sound and lighting upgrades, and previously had replaced curtains on the auditorium stage.

Steinbeck said the cost of the new seating will be about $157,000, and she presented both a model chair and a photo of the color scheme for the PHS seats. The project will only replace the 767 seats on the lower floor of the auditorium, as the balcony seating is one of the few original parts of the auditorium, she said.

The PHS Foundation plans to launch a “chair campaign” in April, with people being given the opportunity to pay for a chair and have a small plaque with a person’s name or the name of an organization placed in the school.

Tuesday’s presentation came with two additional requests.

Steinbeck said foundation officials would like to have the auditorium floor refinished after the old chairs are removed. However, that cost, which was not presented Tuesday, was not included in the bid for the seats to be removed and new seats to be installed.

“We were hoping the county will do that for us,” she said.

Steinbeck said the foundation also has been contacted by community members about purchasing the old chairs.

“You own the seats in the auditorium,” she said. “We would like to have your permission to sell them for a nominal amount. We would take care of the selling.”

Superintendent Will Hosaflook said state policy does allow the furniture to be donated to a non-profit organization such as the PHS Foundation. Officials said if not sold, the chairs would be disposed of by the installation company.

Board member Ron Tice said he would support the foundation selling the old chairs.

“It makes sense to make a little bit of money off of them for the foundation,” he said.

Board President Rick Olcott amended the motion to approve replacement of the chairs to include permission for the foundation to sell the old chairs. Both the amendment and motion passed unanimously.

In other business, the board received information on the cost of middle school athletics, though no action was taken on a request to add middle school soccer.

Jackson Middle School student council president Rohan Malik-Hamirani spoke to the board in September, requesting the district add soccer as a middle school sport.

Officials were asked to look into the viability of a middle-school program, but board members expressed concerns over a previous report which was a list of possible issues with implementing a program. The board requested more information on the possible cost of the program and the current costs of middle school sports.

On Tuesday, Hosaflook said each of the county’s five public middle schools receive $5,000 for middle school athletics and are allowed to keep the ticket sales from four basketball games each year.

“Reconditioning of football helmets can range from $2,000-3,000, so you’re already down to $2,000 for other sports,” Hosaflook said.

The annual cost of facility surcharges, paying officials, equipment and transportation costs roughly $72,000 a year, more than half of which is paid through booster groups and fund-raising events.

“These teams could not survive without their ongoing support,” Hosaflook said. “You see a lot of sports spending a lot of money, but we could not do that without the community.”

Tuesday’s discussion did not include any specifics on the potential cost of adding middle school soccer. Hosaflook said he plans to bring a proposal to the board in April concerning a possible program, but said he also wants to survey interest at all five of the county’s public schools and Parkersburg Catholic High School to see if the county can field a sufficient number of teams.

Malik-Hamirani addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, thanking board members for their help and offering to answer questions. Malik-Hamirani also presented the board with a list of signatures from students and parents who were in favor of middle school soccer.