A failed referendum to repair athletic facilities forces one school district's supporters to take matters into their own hands.
When a $35 million Tuscarora School District referendum failed in Mercersburg, Pa., last November - abruptly dashing administrators' hopes for nearly $5 million worth of athletic facility renovations at James Buchanan High School - students, teachers, alums and other concerned citizens decided to take matters into their own hands.
They established the nonprofit committee Fix JB Sports with the hope of raising enough money in private donations to upgrade the rural-community school's football field and track, swimming pool and tennis courts. All were built in the early 1970s and most no longer meet state standards. As a result, the Pennsylvania Department of Health shut down the pool's rusted-out locker rooms last year, and Rockets teams compete exclusively on the road. The Buchanan track team, for example, has not hosted a home meet in more than a decade.
The committee's $3 million goal can be tracked at www.fixjbsports.org, an informative site with photographs that reveal the extent of the facilities' dilapidation - including tennis court cracks nearly as wide as a human foot and the mixture of dirt and rocks that once served as a running track.
The fundraising is still in the early stages, but at least one task has already been completed. Metzler Building and Remodeling, owned by an alum in nearby St. Thomas, recently installed fiberglass boards on the ceilings of the condemned boys' and girls' pool locker rooms - an admittedly low-profile but high-priority task that will make the ceilings resistant to moisture. Still to come is the removal of rusty lockers and substandard flooring. "I'm just looking at it as one step toward completing a lot of different things," Doug Metzler, who is also a member of Fix JB Sports, told Chambersburg's Public Opinion newspaper in January. "All the school's athletics facilities are in bad shape, but right now this is the place for us to start."