By Tom Reilly Aug 3, 2022

NORTH ATTLEBORO — It was a “team effort,” organizers say, and now the high school has a new fitness center.

Superintendent John Antonucci told the school committee Monday night that newly appointed Red Rocketeer football coach Mike Strachan had recognized the need for a new weight room at the school.

“It was vintage 1980s, not really a healthy environment to work out in,” Antonucci said of the old weight room.

So within the space of a little over a month, supporters had raised nearly $80,000 to renovate and re-equip the fitness center.

The old weight room, Strachan, a North Attleboro alumnus, told the board, used some of the same equipment as when he was going to school.

The school department chipped in $4,500 for some equipment and installed air conditioning in the room.

“We want o give our student body the best equipment available,” Strachan said, adding that student-athletes can now work out at the high school rather than at an off-campus gym.

Kevin Munley, president of the Monday Night Gridiron Club, a group of football boosters, said booster clubs for all of the athletic teams chipped in. Triboro Paint in North Attleboro donated paint, he said.

“It’s a team effort that the whole school can be proud of,” Munley said, adding that the new fitness center won’t just be used by Rocketeer football players.

The school committee accepted the donation with a formal vote.

Antonucci also told the school board members that work has begun on the high school’s athletic complex.

The “massive construction project” has generated a lot of anxiety around town, he told the board. But after working with Town Manager Michael Borg and the town council, he said funding has been secured to get the $5.5 million effort under way.

The old running track has been removed and is scheduled to be replaced by October. A contract for a new grandstand, with a capacity of 2,000 spectators, has gone out to bid. A third component will be a new concession stand and restroom facility, being designed now and slated to go out to bid by December.

Antonucci thanked Borg and the council for their support for the project.

Catherine Blake, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, told the board that one expense she had discussed at a previous meeting won’t be needed now.

Blake had warned the board earlier this year that the schools would have to raise prices on student meals to keep the program solvent, now that federal pandemic-era support for free breakfasts and lunches was ending.

Last month, however, the state Legislature passed a budget that included $110 million to extend the pilot program through the next school year.

“All students will be eligible to receive breakfast and lunch at no cost,” she said.