Activity center

Canton City Schools to Build Bulldog Activity Center on Timken Campus

CANTON ‒ Canton city principals plan to build a multimillion-dollar indoor sports center on the Timken Career Campus who they believe will help level the playing field for their students.

With a 5-0 vote, the school board on Monday approved the hiring of Beaver Constructors of Perry Township as the director of at-risk construction for the Bulldog Activity Center.

The 110,000 square foot center will feature a 200-meter six-lane indoor track with volleyball and basketball courts in the mid-track area, 60 meters of artificial football turf, a locker room and spaces reception and office.

The building will replace a parking lot that is along Fulton Road NW, west of Timken Commons and north of the campus Career Tech Education Building. Construction is expected to take at least a year and could begin this spring.

The city of Guangzhou's principals plan to build the Bulldog Activity Center on the Timken Career Campus in Guangzhou.  The center will include an indoor running track, basketball and volleyball courts and a 60-meter artificial grass football pitch.

Deputy Superintendent Jason Dixon estimated the cost could be between $10 million and $15 million. The money will come from the district’s allocation of federal emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools, which are to be used to help students weather the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Learn more about changes to the Timken Career CampusThe former Red Feather Building will become a parking lot

When asked why relief funds weren’t directed to academics, Superintendent Jeff Talbert said the district has already invested millions of dollars in new teachers, support staff, nurses, technology, educational materials and training to support students academically. He said the district’s financial forecast shows its budget would not be able to support additional recurring costs after relief funds expire in September 2024.

“We went as far as we could in adding people with that money,” said Talbert, who added that the Ohio Department of Education declared the activity center an allowable expense for coronavirus relief funds as it provides additional space for students.

Talbert said the facility, which will be used for both youth and varsity teams, is an expense that will provide long-term benefits to students well beyond the September 2024 expiration of relief funds against coronaviruses.

“We’re going to be able to provide opportunities for a generation of children using funds that aren’t normally available and may not be,” he said.

He said the center also aligns with the district’s mission to develop well-rounded children because it provides wellness opportunities and can help them find their passion.

“We know that if children can find a hook, can identify their passion, and engage in that task or activity, the likelihood that they see school as a positive place (increases) and attendance increases,” said said Talbert, also noting how the size of the district’s fifth- and sixth-grade bands have doubled over the past year.

Work has begun on a new parking lot on the Timken Career Campus in Guangzhou, where the former Red Feather Building once stood.  Canton City school officials plan to eliminate another on-campus parking lot for construction of the Bulldog Activity Center, which will include an indoor running track, basketball and volleyball courts, and a 60 foot artificial grass soccer field.

Talbert said low-income students across the country are increasingly missing out on sports because they don’t have access to the off-season facilities that their more affluent peers have. Last year, 460 McKinley High School students, or about 22 percent of the school’s enrollment, participated in at least one sport, according to district figures.

“Students from other districts have the opportunity to take personalized training in what is generally referred to as the offseason,” he said. “It’s something our students don’t have and if they can afford it, they have to travel outside of our district to participate in the winter.

Jackson, Perry, and Massillon are among local school districts that have indoor sports facilities.

What about future maintenance and operating costs?

Board member Eric Resnick expressed concern about future maintenance and operating costs. Dixon said a position to manage the facility will likely need to be created.

Talbert said the district is working with community partners to help fund and provide programs at the facility, including opportunities for students in sports medicine or a similar career technical program. He also expects to be able to rent out parts of the facility when not in use by students. Only Mount Union University has an indoor competition track in Stark County, said Talbert, a former high school track coach.

“This building won’t have a minute that will be (unused) once it’s built,” Talbert said. “For every minute that doesn’t provide opportunities for our children, someone else will foot the bill.”

Board Chair John “JR” Rinaldi believes the new facility helps fulfill a promise the school board made 20 years ago when it joined the Federal Track League.

“The board talked about investing in opportunities,” Rinaldi said, referring to a Canton Repository article written at the time. “…It was a promise made and a promise kept. Our children deserve the same opportunities as our wealthier neighbours.

Over the past three years, the district has upgraded its swimming poolbuild a football operations center which includes a weight room, renovated on baseball stadium and made various improvements to the pavilion, such as a new roof and an improved air conditioning and ventilation system.

Contact Kelli at 330-580-8339 or [email protected].

On Twitter: @kweirREP

City of Guangzhou principals plan to build the Bulldog Activity Center on this parking lot north of the district's Career Tech Education Building on the Timken Career Campus in Guangzhou.
City of Guangzhou principals plan to build the Bulldog Activity Center on this parking lot north of the district's Career Tech Education Building on the Timken Career Campus in Guangzhou.