In a split 5-1 vote, Waxahachie ISD board members voted Monday night not to spend almost $600,000 out of fund balance for a new video scoreboard for Lumpkins Stadium.

The May 2010 bond approved by voters for renovations to the football stadium had allocated funds to relocate the current scoreboard. A new scoreboard was not part of the bond.

Of the $22.175 million included in proposition one, $20,784,810 was designated for the football stadium’s renovations, with the remainder of the money going for improvements at the softball field and Richards Park.

As pointed out during the board meeting, there is no new or old bond money left to pay for a new scoreboard, meaning such an expenditure would have to come from fund balance, which districts use to pay day-to-day expenses, handle emergency situations (such as last year’s flood at Wedgeworth Elementary) and address budget shortfalls.

On a monthly basis, WISD expends about $5 million and is required by the state to have at least $10 million on hand.

Installation deadline

Director of technology Robert Keith told board members he needed a vote Monday night because he had to place the order Tuesday to ensure installation by the first football game.

Saying he’d spent six months trying to “find the best solution for Waxahachie,” Keith said, “It’s not just a scoreboard.” Touting the new scoreboard’s state-of-the-art, multi-media capabilities, he said, “There are scoreboards and there are digital scoreboards.”

Keith went on at length about the new scoreboard; however, he left the microphone and speaker’s podium to address board members from directly in front of them. As part of his remarks, he touched on how the technology had an educational component and future classroom use, but much of what he said in his presentation was unintelligible from where the public sat.

Video capabilities

According to a graphic on the district’s website, the new scoreboard would be 36 feet tall by 36 feet wide, not including its posts. Within the board, the video screen would be 17 feet tall by 36 feet wide.

The new scoreboard would include three 4 feet tall by 12 feet wide rear-illuminated sponsor signs at the bottom, with Keith saying smaller ads could be shown on the video screen, allowing different advertising opportunities for businesses. Ads also could be fed to the 14 televisions that have already been purchased for placement throughout the stadium, including the concession stands.

During the meeting’s public forum, representatives of the Quarterback Club said their members would help find advertisers. No one spoke against the scoreboard.

Executive session discussion

After Keith’s presentation, board president Mark Price and the board agreed to postpone their vote on the proposal until after they met in a closed, executive session. Price said the new scoreboard matter would not be taken up but he wanted to allow time for members to think over what they had heard.

Board members would be discussing a real property matter in their executive session, Price said, saying that also might have a bearing as to how each might cast his or her vote.

After returning from the hour-plus executive session, Price said no action would be taken on the real property matter. He then took up the new scoreboard matter again, with trustee Gary Fox moving for approval.

Trustee Floyd Bates said he wanted to discuss it further, with Price asking for a second to the motion, saying a second would not bind a trustee to a vote one way or the other.

Bates then seconded the motion to bring the matter back to discussion.

“I think that we need it. I see the pros and cons,” Fox said, acknowledging the “tough economic times.” He noted, however, that people have consistently approached him wanting to know if there’s a new scoreboard being installed at the football stadium.

“I feel it would really complement our stadium and I think we should do it. I feel really positive about it,” he said, citing also the future educational possibilities with the technology.

Impact on finances

Trustee Evelyn Coleman indicated her appreciation for the new scoreboard but said she wanted to know more of the financial aspects.

“I would feel more comfortable if we had people lined up for the advertising. I feel a bit rushed,” she said, noting also the board’s recent approval of a fund balance expenditure relating to the football stadium’s sound system.

Board minutes indicate it was in June that trustees approved a withdrawal of $80,000 from fund balance toward the $130,000 sound system.

“No one wants a new scoreboard more than I do,” Bates said, noting, however, uncertainties as to it being a “profit center.”

Midlothian ISD – which Keith said makes $100,000 a year off of advertising – has different corporate support than WISD, Bates said, adding, “I need to see commitments from people who will help pay for it.”

Bates also commented on his concerns about the 2012-2013 budget.

“I don’t think the town realizes what we’re up against,” he said.

Price indicated he’d like to see a new scoreboard but didn’t see it as a “top priority” now, saying, “At this point, it’s probably going to be a luxury.”

Price did note, however, the educational component and multi-media possibilities before adjourning the meeting, telling the scoreboard’s supporters it was not a “dead issue” and saying the district would try to do something in the future.

Fox voted for the new scoreboard with trustees Price, Bates, Coleman, Mike Lee and Mike Robinson voting against. Trustee Dr. Joe Langley was not in attendance.

Contact JoAnn at joann@wninews.com or 469-517-1452.