The Midlothian ISD School Board voted 5-2 to add parking spaces and a sidewalk to the softball complex at its meeting Monday, Dec. 17.
School Board Secretary Phil Seay and Trustee Todd Hemphill agreed with the project but cast dissenting votes because of the funding source.
During the school board’s joint meeting with the city council Nov, 5, the city proposed sharing the cost of additional parking space and paving to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The city estimated a cost of $240,000 with a 50/50 split.
The original agenda item listed the district’s $120,000 share to come out of the general fund balance. However, Trustee Cindy Williams suggested an alternative funding source.
“Couldn’t we allocate $120,000 out of the unallocated interest from the 2006 bond?” Williams asked Katie Bowman, assistant superintendent for finance and operations.
School Board President Duke Burge said he was against spending money out of the general fund balance for the project, and is strongly against spending bond money for purposes other than it was originally intended for. Though the unallocated interest earned from the 2006 bond was different.
“I feel it is a stretch, but we have been more lenient in the past with unallocated interest,” Burge said.
Seay said he felt that $120,000 wasn’t a large amount of money to pull from the general fund. He wanted to save the approximate $400,000 in unallocated interest for some other project.
Hemphill said he felt that the project was not a proper use of the interest. Both agreed with the need for the project, but would rather a different funding source be used.
In opening discussion on the item, Trustee Keith Hitt spoke about the need for additional paved area at the softball fields.
“I was a softball parent for several years and I can tell from experience that it is not very user-friendly,” Hitt said. “I think this is something we need, especially since we’re hosting more out of town teams and tournaments out there.”
Superintendent Dr. Jerome Stewart agreed with going forward on the project, because the need for ADA compliance. Currently there are no reserved spaces for handicapped fans and no sidewalk or ramp.
The school board voted first to amend the agenda item to use the unallocated interest from the 2006 bond package as the funding source with a 5-2 vote and then voted 5-2 to approve the item. Seay and Hemphill voted against both items.
On a separate agenda item, the school board voted unanimously and praised the district’s staff for a grant that would fund 100 percent of the cost to employ a School Resource Officer (SRO) for three years. However, Bowman noted that the competition for the grant is likely to have drastically increased due to the recent Connecticut school shooting.
In other business, the school board:
• received a Working On the Work (WOW) Presentation from Longbranch Elementary students who performed as part of the All-City Choir and a presentation from the Longbranch Elementary Honor Council
• received a presentation from the Community Problem Solvers middle school students on their Project CHEWY
• voted unanimously to refinance two bonds in the amounts of $22 million and $57 million, saving the district more than $10.6 million.
• received an update on High School No. 2 and Frank Seale Middle School bond projects
• gave no response on the planning and rezoning request for the MidTowne assisted living and memory care facility
• approved a bid for the reflooring project at J.A. Vitovsky Elementary
• approved the wireless access upgrade project for all elementary schools to match the current service at the middle school campuses. Funding for the project will come from the 2006 bond fund.
• approved renewing its contract with Aramark for another year of food service
• approved creating a part-time bus driver position
• approved paving to increase the bus parking area at the MISD Auxiliary Center
• approved payment of the remaining balance of the Johnson Controls Capital Lease
• set the date for the superintendent’s evaluation
• approved participation in the Education Rally
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