‘Expensive’ school track ‘continues to move’

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Granville superintendent Tom McGurl. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Zinn.

In the words of Granville school superintendent Tom McGurl, hearing the track that was completed in 2020 “continues to move” is “not really something anyone wants to say about a very expensive track.”

McGurl announced at the Granville Board of Education meeting on June 13 that the school’s insurance company, Utica National Insurance, will be working with advisors and engineers to obtain a third-party opinion with no conflicts of interest to the project on steps going forward to repair the cracks in the track.

A cause to the fractures has not been identified yet, but McGurl’s suspicion is either water or soil compaction underneath the track.

A side-view of the cracks in the high school track near the football field earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Tom McGurl.

NYVTmedia initially reported the cracks in the track in April. McGurl confirmed at the meeting that cracks are located on both the Church Street side and the north side closest to the parking lot of the track, not in the running lanes.

“Most of the damage is on the inner skirt right around the edge of where the drain is that surrounds the football field, most of it is on the north end of the track and on the east side towards Telescope,” McGurl said.

“The north end has stayed about the same around where the cracking is right by the field. The side by Telescope has gotten worse,” he said. “Before, it was kind of bent and you could see it bending. Now it has actually broken and cracked the same way the north was prior, so things are continuing to move.”

McGurl said the track is still usable for both school functions and community use from dawn to dusk during the summertime unless conditions change and are otherwise posted.

“I think it’s better to move slowly on this and make sure we’re making the right decisions,” McGurl said. “We spent a lot of money. In my opinion, there are a lot of parties involved with this, the only one that I know of that is not responsible is the Granville Central School District.

“I’ve been pretty blunt about that with our builders. I don’t know if this is a design issue, a building issue, a monitoring what was being constructed issue, but I know it was not a Granville issue because ‘we put no strings on these folks and said give us a cheap track and we’ll take what we can get.’ This was ‘we want an outstanding track and please deliver.’ And I don’t think that thus far, we have gotten what we had paid for.”

McGurl is optimistic the issue could be resolved in one year’s time but warned the board this could be a lingering issue.

“My inclination is, we have a damaged track. That’s not our fault, it’s not like we were out there driving trucks on it or heavy equipment on it. We took super good care of it to the point where when Walt brings the mower across, we put matting and padding down. It has nothing to do with us, so I see this as a damage claim,” McGurl said.

“Whether that damage is from professional misconduct from not designing something properly or its contractors didn’t put the gravel base or dig as far as they were supposed to, that all remains to be seen. I think right now we treat this as an insurance claim. Who Utica National collects this from, that’s Utica National’s business just like a car accident.”

McGurl emphasized the insurance company’s feedback is critical prior to breaking ground on repairs because he feels “we’re going to get one shot to get this right.”

Board member John Troy inquired if there was a “typical warranty in terms of years on the track.” McGurl said his belief was it is two years from the time the district took hold, three years for the surface coating and two years for the undercoating.

“I can say right now it is absolutely not a surface like the blue rubber, that’s not at fault in any way whatsoever. Everybody that’s been involved with that track is aware that there is an issue there so all of the parties have been notified that we are seeking some sort of remediation on this,” McGurl said.

“Right now, you fall into one of those categories where everybody is doing one of these” (pointing at each other).

Additionally in his monthly report to the board, McGurl announced that the pre-K program at Mary J. Tanner School for 4-year-olds and those turning 4-years-old before Dec. 1 will be a full-time program this fall due to a significant increase in the legislative budget.

“I would assume most parents would be interested in a full day because It’s nice having that full-day coverage if you have to work,” McGurl said.

Principal Paul Morcone confirmed that all the available slots (54) had already been filled for the originally scheduled half-day program. Those 54 students will take part in the full-day program.

“I only say that (54 slots) cautiously because sometimes things don’t work out or they don’t officially come through with paperwork. But right now, that’s pretty high to have those results at the end of May, early-June,” Morcone said.

“Right now, our plan is to have them attend a couple of specials, so to speak ‘get their feet wet’, get around the building a little bit. There will obviously be a rest time and lunch… I think getting a full-day program, one, will benefit families and not split that two-and-a-half hours in the middle of the day for childcare, and two, it’s going to give us a longer duration and to do more with that early literacy.”

Under the full-day model, Morcone said the plan would be to have three classrooms with 18 students, one teacher and one support-staff member to each class.

3-year-olds will still be allowed to attend the half-day program. Morcone clarified that pre-K students will need to be picked up and dropped off for instruction.

Granville ends boys soccer merger

The Granville Board of Education has voted unanimously to pull out of the boys soccer merger with Whitehall Central School District because of a lack of numbers on the Railroaders’ side. School superintendent Tom McGurl said there would have been only one modified player coming from Whitehall.

Although it would only be one player, because of Whitehall and Granville’s average school population sizes, the merger would move the team into Section II Class B, a move not advised by McGurl with a young and small roster.

“If they were sending us five players, we could certainly use the bodies for sure. But with one modified player and I coached him last year, he has a knack for it and it was his first year last year. I know he will be disappointed, but I don’t think it benefits our program and benefits the Granville athletes at this time.”