Assured by Superintendent Libby Bonesteel’s staff that the board’s control over the proposed renovation of the track-and-field facilities at Montpelier High School (MHS) will remain under board control, a motion to commit $1.5 million of a $2.2 million federal grant to the project was approved unanimously by the Montpelier Roxbury Public School board. Board members noted the strong outpouring of community support that included unusually large attendance at the regular school board meeting on Wednesday evening, April 6. Along with several students and coaches who spoke in support of the track project, former principal and longtime track-and-field coach Charlie Phillips came close to tears when he explained his heartfelt enthusiasm for the project. Several board members said that their initial skepticism about the track proposal has been allayed by the thorough analysis presented by the district’s staff, but also because the facilities will support programs that are “inclusive, diverse, and accessible,” as summarized by board member Mia Moore. Both student representatives, Merrick Modun and Zach Henningsen, who sit on the board (but are not voting members) spoke in support of the project. Also speaking in support of an upgraded facility was Montpelier resident Otis Loga, who attends U-32 high school. Loga has discovered great satisfaction through running despite a physical disability that many would presume excludes running. Noting that an improved track surface, like the one installed at U-32 a few years ago, opens the door to participation by many people who physically cannot access other sports, Loga underscored the potential for the project.Several adults, including current Main Street Middle School track coach Nathan Suter, told of the positive influence participation in track and field had on their own lives growing up. ‘Self-discipline’ was a key word for Suter and again for Cody Steed, the MHS varsity coach, who has 35 students on this year’s team. Main Street Middle School has 78 students participating this spring, “But fortunately all of them don’t show up on the same day,” Suter explained when interviewed following the meeting. Responding to a suggestion that improvements to the school’s grass playing fields be considered at the same time, facilities manager Andrew LaRosa said that add-on is beyond the scope of the current estimate but could be considered when more specific plans are developed. Fitting a new track design into the existing landscape with the proximity of the river and recreation path to the west and the tennis courts to the east imposes some physical constraints. Options include a 400-meter six-lane track or eight-lane track — or a six-lane track with an eight-lane straightway, LaRosa said.