Daily Independent, Ashland, June 6, 2017
Opinion: Community commended for online support that earned new, safer gym flooring for Boyd Co. elementary; benefits to students, others who use the gym, school and district too.
When students, teachers, staff and visitors return to Summit Elementary School in August, they will not have to worry about slipping and falling in the school’s gym floor. A new gym floor is set to be installed in late June and early July, and the much-needed new floor will not cost taxpayers a penny.
Summit is getting the free floor courtesy of a company that specializes in sports flooring. Gerflor USA sponsored a contest last year in which schools competed for a free floor by soliciting online votes; Summit supporters came through with a massive majority.
The flooring is constructed of a material that resembles the wood laminate used in homes, but which employs a backing that is shock absorbing and fire resistant, Summit Principal Ben Maynard said.
The gym also is getting a new coat of paint, which the district will pay for, he said. The district also will pay a company to move bleachers and then reinstall them once the flooring job is done.
That piece of the project comes at an opportune time because the bleachers are on schedule for inspection anyway, Maynard said. The Summit gym, along with the gyms at Catlettsburg Elementary and the old high school building, also will get LED lighting using fixtures that were already on hand, according to Superintendent Brock Walter. The fixtures, which are about 5 years old, were removed from the Boyd County Middle School gym when it was renovated and have been in storage. The LED fixtures are brighter and use considerably less energy, which will mean better-lit gyms and thousands of dollars in electricity savings, Walter said.
The new floor replaces one that, while sound, was made of a synthetic material that because of repeated refinishings was extremely slick.
The slick floor was not dangerous for day-to-day use, but coaches and physical education teachers modified practice routines for safety and Summit didn’t use it for games.
With the new floor in, Summit can resume hosting ball games and its shock-absorbing properties will make it safer for ankles, knees and other joints. Children will be able to run on it with less danger of falling, Maynard said. It also will be safer for family events.
Summit is the newest of Boyd County’s elementaries, and because the district has higher building and maintenance priorities, the district wouldn’t have been in a position to pay for a new gym floor, Walter said.
The district will save still more because the surface requires less maintenance, he said.
When Gerflor put out a call for grant applications last fall, Maynard submitted one, and when Summit Elementary was named one of three finalists for a new floor, Summit Elementary supporters responded to the challenge by going online and voting multiple times. Because of the broad-based support it received, Summit beat a middle school in Northern California and a YMCA in Connecticut to win the new floor.
It is not the first time online voters have helped local causes win money. We can think of at least three times that has happened, which speaks highly of the amount of local support area schools and nonprofit agencies enjoy.