Canton City Schools students will soon enjoy a new 120,000-square-foot athletic center at the Timken Career Campus. The Bulldog Activity Center will feature an indoor track, volleyball and basketball courts, and artificial football turf field, and a locker room. The building will be financed using federal pandemic relief funds that expire in September 2024.
According to the CantonRep.com, the Canton City school board approved hiring Beaver Constructors of Perry Township to build the $19.37 million indoor athletic facility at their meeting last Wednesday. The board had approved the plans for the project at a previous meeting in September of 2022. The initial estimates for the project were around $15 million; however the cost estimates increased recently with the addition of 10,000 square feet to the building, according to Assistant Superintendent Jason Dixon.
Is an Athletic Facility Academic Support?
Some residents are questioning the use of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds for an athletic project. The purpose of these funds are to help students overcome the effects of the pandemic. District officials reason that the funds are being used for the activity center instead of academics because the district has already invested millions of dollars into new teachers, support personnel, nurses, technology, curriculum materials, and training to support students academically. Given the current financial forecast for the district, they do not believe the budget would be able to sustain any additional recurring costs and the funds expire in September 2024.
The Ohio Department of Education has approved the use of relief funds for the activity center because it provides additional space for students. Also, physical activity has been linked to childhood brain health, including improved academic performance, memory, and reduced depression symptoms, all of which were affected by the trauma of the pandemic.
Ohio COVID Recovery Initiatives
The Future Forward Ohio initiative, “encompasses the state’s strategic priorities for using federal funds to help students recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic..” The website dashboard shows the impact of the pandemic on Ohio students as well as the progress made toward academic recovery. The initiative focuses on three coordinating strategies to facilitate student success: Overcoming obstacles to learning, accelerating learning, and preparing students for future success. Canton residents can hope to see this project listed on the dashboard soon.
The timeline for this project, as well as a $4.1 million building addition to the STEAMM Academy at Hartford by fall 2024.