Sta­dium

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - Dave Perozek can be reached at dper­ozek@nwadg.com or on Twit­ter @NWADaveP.

closely on the costs, the district ex­pects to need only $12.7 mil­lion.

Quinn ob­jected the most on the mat­ter, say­ing he dis­agreed with the way the board was go­ing about it.

“I know how we do things, and this is a lot of money to do on an agenda change, which we nor­mally don’t do it that way,” Quinn said. “The way this is un­fold­ing, that doesn’t even give peo­ple the abil­ity to come to the start of the meet­ing and do their three-minute com­ments. It just seems aw­fully rushed to do $2 mil­lion on an agenda change.”

West High School opened last year. Its foot­ball team plays home games at Ben­tonville High School’s Tiger Sta­dium, seven miles from West High’s Cen­ter­ton cam­pus.

The district re­ceived vot­ers’ ap­proval of a 1.9-mill tax in­crease to build four new schools in a spe­cial elec­tion May 9. Prior to that elec­tion, some in the com­mu­nity — in­clud­ing for­mer board mem­bers Lisa Clark and Grant Ligh­tle — ex­pressed con­cern the board would turn around soon af­ter the elec­tion and put money into a sta­dium at West High School.

Deb­bie Jones, su­per­in­ten­dent, and Riggs, the board’s pres­i­dent, said at the time no money raised from the mill­age would be put to­ward the sta­dium project. Jones re­it­er­ated af­ter the meet­ing that no money from the mill­age would go to­ward the sta­dium.

Sch­wan­hausser said she felt com­fort­able with the sta­dium ex­pen­di­ture, be­cause the district re­ceived $3.9 mil­lion in “growth funds,” which the state pro­vides to school districts based on how much en­roll­ment grows over the course of a year. That ad­di­tional rev­enue is money the district did not in­clude in its bud­get at the be­gin­ning of last school year, she said.

Eric White, a board mem­ber, said the board passed the mill­age with a trans­par­ent mes­sage of how the money would be spent.

“I think there’s al­ways go­ing to be new in­for­ma­tion go­ing for­ward. I think it’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of this board to make a de­ci­sion based on what we know now,” White said.

Putting money into the sta­dium project “would not go back in time and con­flict with what we told every­one we planned on do­ing, and what we knew at that time,” he said.

Quinn coun­tered that com­ment, say­ing, “We all know that if the mill­age had failed, we would not be hav­ing this dis­cus­sion tonight. So we can say it’s not re­lated, but com­mon sense would tell you that it is.”

Pass­more said with the district’s fi­nan­cial sup­port, he can talk with po­ten­tial donors about do­na­tions that are more within their price range, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to nam­ing rights. In­stead of seek­ing $3 mil­lion for the right to name the sta­dium, the price tag could be $1 mil­lion, he told the board.

“I do think when we sit down with in­di­vid­u­als and have those [district] funds avail­able and say, ‘Here’s where we’re at, we’re half­way there,’ it will ob­vi­ously in­spire peo­ple to be able to get in­volved,” Pass­more said.

He added very few school districts build sta­di­ums en­tirely with do­na­tions.

“The way this is un­fold­ing, that doesn’t even give peo­ple the abil­ity to come to the start of the meet­ing and do their three-minute com­ments. It just seems aw­fully rushed to do $2 mil­lion on an agenda change.”

— Joe Quinn, School Board mem­ber

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.