SMSD Trustees divided over new turf & track

By Karen Daniels   

The May agenda for SMSD’s Board of Trustees listed 23 “consider approval” items. The most popular approval was the re-designation of May 26, Memorial Day, as a school holiday. (The City will vote to re-open the pool on May 21.) Some of these items on the agenda are policy, but most require funding.

There is approximately $2.1 million residual 2011 bond fund money for the trustees to consider.

The big ticket items are the new turf and track and they were moved to the end of the list. As the Board approved programs like Kick Start, additional supplies District-wide, repairs to the gym floor and walls at the intermediate and middle schools, and maintenance throughout, the money in reserve decreased.

Trustee Rosas had requested bond money for safety renovations to the administration building addressing security, better lighting, cameras, and panic buttons, but this was not placed on the recommendation list by Interim Superintendent Dr. Hooper.

Trustee Zak was not in favor of adding this right now due to lack of firm estimates. The ball-park figure was $300K. More information is being requested to define the scope of work, but the bond money will be gone by then.

When the Board returned to the turf and track, the costs exceeded the available balance by $800K. Another way to pay for this was explained: Currently the SMSD fund balance has a higher-than-required balance.

There is 10 million, they are only required to have a three month surplus, roughly 7.5 million. Being his first day on the job, Superintendent Dr. Bostic was quiet through most of these discussions, but responded when asked.

Board members
stated their viewpoints: 

Trustee Rosas: Wants City Council to have a say in this. Doesn’t want Dr. Bostic to deal with this on his first day.

Trustee Zak: Feels this topic was already discussed at the last joint budget meeting with no resistance. This is not a new project.

Trustee Holshcer: Does not want to use M&O money without City Council’s approval. Joint bank account needs joint approval.

Trustee Jackson: Has been assured the field will pay for itself over time. Inquired about payment plans.

Trustee Butler: Believes the kids deserve more. Suggested a motion for a special joint budget meeting within 2 weeks.

President Castillo: Wants to focus funds on academic excellence. Quality academics is more important right now than sports.

Trustee Holsapple: Wants to conserve the fund balance for increases to teachers’ salaries. Also agrees to involve City Council.  If the vote had taken place that night, most likely it would have failed 4 to 3. The motion to call a special joint meeting with City Council passed unanimously.

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