Despite budget concerns, the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees approved the funding necessary to finish the press box and concession building at George Whittell High School stadium. The plans for the press box and concession stand require $122,281 from the trustees
The board heard a summary of the budget preparations during its Feb. 13 meeting. Trustees were then asked to approve about a third of the maintenance budget for the press box update project at Whittell.
"We just talked in the last item about how we have a $300,000 budget and this is over a third of that," said board member Robbe Lehmann. "This isn't tier one or tier two or maybe even tier 50 and it is getting pushed to the top because we have to do it and I do not know if it is the best use of our money because we have a list of capital improvements."
The press box and concession building upgrades are part of larger renovations to the athletic facility at Whittell. Aside from those upgrades, improvements also include an all-weather rubber track surface circling a new grass field and an irrigation and drainage system that will take care of the standing water, the Tribune previously reported.
The board asked Whittell Principal Crespin Esquivel if the school had reached out to the community or boosters to ask for donations for the project. He said they had gone to the boosters who said they would set aside some money to purchase any equipment for the new facilities, furnishings for the building itself, appliances for the concession building, tables, chairs.
Esquivel also said the boosters have committed to setting money aside for any upgrades needed for the project. He is still waiting to hear back from an alumni group about funding.
Several members of the board had concerns about the additional funding.
"We were 98 percent done with this thing and now we find out we are $122,281 out of balance," said Ross Chichester, vice president of the board. "That should not happen this way. We should know that before or the project should be downsized. I know it has to be done, but it is not fair to the board or the community."
Superintendent Teri White responded to concerns by explaining the initial press box came in well over budget and she asked the committee and contractor to downsize the project.
"I think given what they have to live with, codes and bathrooms and plumbing, this is what they came up with as the bottom line," White said.
Thomas Moore, board president, said he also was concerned with coming up with the funds.
"On the other hand, I don't think we have a whole lot of options," he said. "I do support it."
The board voted unanimously to approve the $122,281 for the press box and concession area.