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$3.9 million athletic complex next for RTR

Includes track and football field

PThere’s a lot of empty ground behind the new Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School construction site and parking lot, but by this fall, the plan is for the area to become a new athletic complex with a track and football field. hoto by Deb Gau

TYLER — Construction of the new Russell-Tyler-Ruthton school continues to make progress in Tyler, with the goal of being ready for students in the fall. But that’s not the only construction goal for RTR this year, Superintendent David Marlette said.

The district is also planning to start construction of a $3.9 million athletic complex including a track and artificial turf football field.

“We’re waiting for the review and comment to come back from the state,” Marlette said. “We should be getting that really soon.”

Like other public school construction projects, the complex needs to be reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Education, Marlette said. But once RTR hears from the state, they can start moving dirt for the athletic complex, he said.

“It’s going to really complete it,” Marlette said of the school construction.

Athletic fields were already a future goal for the new RTR School — under an agreement with the city of Tyler, the school district needed to vacate the current football field at RTR High School at the end of five years, Marlette said. However, the timeline to make that move has been sped up for practical reasons. With low interest rates, “We felt now is a better time than waiting for a couple more years,” Marlette said. Plus, he said, waiting to build the athletic complex would mean having to put down topsoil and grass only to tear it up again in a couple of years.

The planned athletic complex will include an eight-lane track and artificial turf football field with a secure fence, a practice field, and a storage shed for equipment. “It will be all new lights,” Marlette said, with new bleachers on the home side of the field. “We’re going to move our present scoreboard, because it’s not that old,” as well as moving over the current visitors’ bleachers from the RTR football field, he said.

Marlette said the athletic complex project is separate from the $35 million preK-12 school construction project, and would not have a tax increase for the public.

“We promised our people . . . we would not spend one penny of our new facilities bond on our athletic complex,” Marlette said. Instead, RTR will be using a combination of other funding sources, including general obligation capital facilities bonds, certificates of participation, and existing fund balances.

Marlette said a third project, a field house with space for school van parking, restrooms and a concession stand, is also planned to go along with the athletic complex. While some of the athletic complex construction will use the same contractors working on the new school facilities, the field house will involve a lot of local contractors, Marlette said.

Having the new athletic facilities ready in time for the new school year will have benefits for RTR, Marlette said. It will be easier for students to get to sports practices and games if they can just go outside, instead of having to travel over to the old football fields. Having artificial turf will also allow RTR to get more use out of the athletic field, in a wider range of weather conditions, he said.

Marlette said construction at RTR School is also making good progress, and is under budget. The work currently going on includes interior painting, hanging ceiling tiles and lights. Cabinets are going in classrooms and offices, and tile work is under way in restrooms. “It’s working out really good,” Marlette said.

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