A work session was scheduled to occur Monday by the St. Clair County Board of Education to discuss the five-year capital plan. Problem is, only two of the seven board members showed up for the 4:30 p.m. meeting.
The two members were Marie Manning and John DeGaris. BOE president Scott Suttle was running late, and showed up at 4:55 p.m. Board members Terry Green, Allison Gray, Angie Cobb and Randy Thompson did not show up. Green did show up for the 6 p.m. called board meeting.
Just as Chief Financial Officer Laura Nance was about to make her presentation concerning the five-year capital plan, Manning reminded her there were five members not present.
“And I think this is a critical piece of information that’s not due until Sept. 20,” Manning said. “I think everybody on this board needs to hear this. These are big bucks. It’s not just little stuff. The entire board needs to hear this presentation.”
St. Clair Schools Superintendent Jenny Seals said she thought four BOE members were going to be present, but did agree to postpone talking about the five-year capital plan.
Manning did say she had a couple of questions she wanted Nance to answer concerning the five-year capital plan.
Manning’s first question was in regards to the reason for putting an item on the five-year capital plan. The second question dealt with the source to be used to fund the projects.
Nance said safety issues are one of the biggest things looked at, while roofing issues are actually looked at by the state department.
“The state will come sometime in February and inspect all of our properties again,” Nance said. “Most all of the funding for 2013 capital plan will be paid out of PSF money, except for the one big item and the most controversial one — the new football stadium to be built on the campus of the new SCCHS. The expected cost with a field house and weight room is $2.2 million.”
SCCHS Principal Brian Terry said the concrete stands on the home side at the current football stadium are hazardous.
“We have some areas I think can be patched,” Terry said. “The problem is that when you continue to patch, it continues to deteriorate deeper and deeper into the concrete. All we are doing is patching crumbling concrete. It just keeps deteriorating.”
Terry said there is one step he has to work on, and he also needs to secure a railing. He said he thought the original set of bleachers was built in 1964.
“At some point and time, a second set of bleachers were added onto the initial ones, and then a third set of bleachers were added,” Terry said. “I know of three people who have fallen and were injured since I’ve been the principal. One had a broken arm; another had a damaged knee and someone had a hurt neck.”
DeGaris said if he had to vote right now about building a new football stadium at SCCHS, he would vote no. He asked Terry how much money has been raised in Odenville toward the new stadium.
Terry listed several entities that have promised monetary help or in kind services. The entities listed included the Odenville Water Board, the town of Odenville, Four Star Realty, the Odenville Athletic Booster Club, the Odenville Band Boosters and the Corp of Engineers through the U.S. Army.
Terry said Lyman Lovejoy is helping him with some contacts. He has also spoken with Sens. Del Marsh and Scott Beason.
“We would commit all parking money raised over a certain time frame, fundraisers, etc.,” Terry said.
“The reason I would vote no is because I think we as a board, have been set up on this, and we have been pushed into a corner,” DeGaris said. “And if this board don’t do anything, it’s going to look bad on us.”
DeGaris said if people ride by the schools in Springville and see all the facilities, they might say look at what the county did for them.
“No, they didn’t,” DeGaris said. “I know people personally who I see on a weekly basis who signed notes to build that stuff. And frankly, until I see that kind of commitment come out of Odenville, I’m not for it. I know you need a new stadium because the current one is dangerous and unacceptable, but I do not know what else to do.”
Later in the meeting, DeGaris said he would like to see the town of Odenville commit $300,000 toward this project.
Nance said even if the football stadium project started today, it would take almost a year to complete.
Suttle said a few years ago when they were looking at building the new high school, there were comments made by more than one person that they wanted the school built and then the stadium, and with the new stadium there was going to be community involvement.
“The community has been very patient, and at the same time, they need to be prepared,” Suttle said. “They are probably not as prepared as they should have been. Until we put this on the five-year capital plan, we can’t move forward at all. If we are going to start looking at it seriously, we have to get it out there. At that point, we look at how much it is really going to cost, how much is the community going to help us with, and how much are we going to put in. Just because it is on the capital plan does not mean it is going to get done. Each aspect of this still has to be approved by the board. I do not mind pursuing it some, as long as everybody keeps that same understanding that I had from the beginning. It’s going to have to be a team effort from everybody to make this thing go.”