By ANGIE KLOSTERMAN
ST. MARYS — After extensive discussion Wednesday evening, board members moved to table a resolution authorizing MSA Sport to conduct an outdoor athletic master plan.
During their meeting, members of the St. Marys Board of Education discussed a possible resolution to have MSA conduct an outdoor athletic venue facilities assessment and development of a master plan for all outdoor athletic venues at a cost not to exceed $9,800, with board members being unsure of the need to spend that amount of money in the district’s financial situation.
Business Manager Kurt Kuffner noted the idea of having a plan in place stemmed from past Buildings and Grounds Committee meetings.
“We thought we need to have a comprehensive plan because whenever you just keep doing this here, this here, this there, you pay a lot more money,” Kuffner said. “If you have a comprehensive plan, you know what does this facility need, like, what does the soccer facility need, you get a comprehensive plan for that. What do we need for track so we can hold track meets. What do we need for football so we can accommodate our kids from eighth grade through 12th grade? We need to have a plan.”
He noted the three-year occupancy permit on the locker room building at Skip Baughman Stadium.
“One year is gone,” he said. “What are we going to do after two years? We need to have a plan in place, are we going to continue to play there for five, six, seven or eight years or are we going to move to the new site in five, six, seven ... We don’t know.”
Kuffner provided a report from the structural engineer about the district’s bleachers.
“It shows what we need to do at Skip Baughman Stadium so we have some kind of plan in place so we’re just not flying by the seat of our pants, in my opinion,” Kuffner said.
Board Member Brian Little noted the high cost of the creation of the plan but noted the cost could save the board funds in the future.
“Almost $10,000 is a lot of money to spend, but right now, like Kurt said, I think the $9,800 very well could easily save us money in the future,” he said. “What we’ll get from this is — what we want to do in the future as well as what we need to do to keep the facilities from crumbling away. This would (give) us a plan so we know we’re going to spend this amount of money or it’s going to cost us a lot more ... Before something bad happens and it’s going to cost us a lot more than $9,800.”
The plan, he said, could help the district budget for a possible future expense — such as paying for the locker rooms for another three or so years.
“It’s, in my opinion, almost one of those things where we have to spend the money to save money in the future,” Little said.
Board Member Ronda Shelby brought up the district’s financial situation.
“I have concerns because, I know, looking at our money situation, it’s critical, and for the next couple years ... Everything has to be focused on education,” she said. “That is why we do have our schools. Sports are secondary. It’s one thing we have to guarantee our students.”
Although she noted she did coach athletics when she was with the district, Shelby said they need to focus on giving the students the education they need, and that comes with costs.
“I really, right now, have qualms about spending any money for athletics. Maybe because it’s the teacher in me and I’m sorry about that, but I think it’s something that we have to be good stewards with the people’s money. And we’re going to have to ask them for money, and their question is going to be, ‘Well have you used the money that you’ve had effectively?’”
Shelby noted she studied the information and asked others for their opinions before coming to her own decision.
“I do believe, I really have qualms about this, and I don’t know that there’s an easy answer,” she said. “And it’s not that I don’t know that it’s important, but I think that we have other priorities.”
Board Member Ralph Wiley noted it puts the board in a tough spot — either its criticized for not having a plan or for spending more money.
“The board of education has been criticized over the past few years for a lack of plans, and when you put a plan together where you need to have this information performed by an outside agency whose specialty is to do this sort of thing, yet we go to a Catch-22 when we’re accused of spending money when it shouldn’t be spent,” he said.
“It’s a matter of opinion, and it’s also our responsibility to educate people so they know why we’re spending money.”
He noted it is important to plan, but whether they follow through with the plan is something they can decide at a later date.
Superintendent Shawn Brown asked about the possibility of looking at the plan at a later date.
“Is this something that may be looked at in a year ... If we get our academic house in order, then look at this plan,” he asked. “Maybe it’s something we know we’d like to plan and be prepared, and I understand that, but maybe it’s something we don’t do right.”
The board members decided to table the item on Wednesday and suggested meeting later with MSA and the Buildings and Grounds Committee to get more information and then revisiting the item in approximately six months.
In other business, board members approved:
• Various personnel items.
• A Parent Involvement Policy as a Title I requirement.
• The district’s tuition rate for the 2012-13 school year.
• The 2012-13 bus routes and authorized changes throughout the school year as the transportation department deems necessary.
• A resolution to participate and authorize the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council to advertise and receive bids on the board’s behalf as per the specifications submitted for the cooperative purchase of one school bus.
• Passed a resolution awarding the contract for snow plowing and snow removal at the high school/middle school complex to Whitney Painting and Sandblasting. Little reiterated that he believed they should go by the original contract. Board President Lisa Tobin stressed that HDL Property Services LLC, the lowest bidder, has the current mowing contract and has proven to be a responsible and reputable company. Wiley and Tobin voted against Little’s motion to go with Whitney for the contract.
• Approved revisions to Policy 5517.01 and to 8462 with the additions to the cyberbullying policy on page seven of the policy to include all students and not just those in grades seven through 12.
The next meeting of the St. Marys Board of Education will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Memorial High School Performing Arts Center.