The Wenatchee School District is moving ahead with construction of new softball fields for girls' sports. 

The school board Thursday signed off on a contract with Spokane based Bernardo Wills to perform architectural and design works. 

School Superintendent Dr. Kory Kalahar says the firm will begin work immediately. 

"Realistically the timeline for the architectural and design work is quite urgent, and so we could not wait another week to address this aggressive timeline we have for the soft ball complex," said Kalahar.  

The facility is being constructed because there’s been concern the Wenatchee School District was not meeting compliance with Title IX. Title IX requires all educational institutions in the US to reward male and female athletes equally.    

The new softball field will also resolve a complaint that was filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging the district's current baseball facilities are vastly superior to the facilities used for softball.  

The district's current field for high school baseball features all-synthetic turf and is located across the street from the high school, while its softball teams utilize facilities at Walla Walla Point Park which lack the same amenities.  

The new varsity softball field will be located at Triangle Park near the Apple Bowl and Recreation Park. 

Kalahar says the project is definitely on the fast track. 

"The goal is that the architectural and design begins absolutely immediately so that we can have this work ready to go out to bid in the early spring, late winter even, so that we can have the project begin in April, and complete the soft ball complex by August," Kalahar said. 

There's $4 million in funding for the softball field coming from the district’s savings, or fund balance. School board members believe there'll be another funding source available to help pay for any additional costs to complete the project. 

The school board approved the architectural and design contract with the understanding it will be amended to stipulate that travel and lodging expenses for Bernardo Wills will not be covered by the district.  

Board member Laura Jaecks asked for the change, noting the 170-mile travel distance between the firm’s Spokane headquarters and Wenatchee. 

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