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