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School board to ask county for stadium money

March 16, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education will ask the County Commissioners for funds to support private efforts to build a stadium at North Hagerstown High School.

A divided board voted Tuesday night to request $135,000 to go toward the stadium, after a flurry of motions and discussion made clear some members would not support a larger amount.

"I don't really see where additional money is needed," school board Vice President Jacqueline Fischer said.

Fischer said the private committee planning the stadium had indicated it did not want to use funds needed to address other school-related concerns, and "this still is competing with the much needed dollars for schools," she said.

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The stadium committee of North High Boosters Club Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises money to support athletic activities, has received about $1.4 million toward its goal of $2.3 million for a stadium.

While board member Edward Forrest commended the committee's efforts, he said other priorities took precedence over a request for $200,000 for the stadium - the motion that appeared on the board's agenda. He said he had too many questions about the item to support it.

The $135,000 request to the commissioners would be on top of the $24.6 million request the board already took to the county as part of its Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

Stadium construction is not part of the CIP, although Chief Operating Officer William Blum said the school system would be required to get approvals from the state before going ahead with any work.

School board members questioned Blum about why the project is not part of the CIP, which maps future school construction.

Blum told the board he believed the school system should put the project in its capital improvement program once the stadium committee is able to turn over a check for the work. Then, he said, the school system would write "the rules of engagement."

School board member Wayne Ridenour, who supported the final motion for a $135,000 request, said he could back a request for money the school system would spend to maintain the facilities at North High. He said he believed that amount had been projected for work on North High's track.

Many of North High's athletic events take place at South Hagerstown High School. North High has no stadium, and officials have said School Stadium at South High is overbooked and overburdened.

Rodney Turnbough, director of facilities management, said the school system had scheduled expenditures of $100,000 in fiscal year 2008 for site work on North High's athletic facilities. A second expenditure of $100,000 was forecast for fiscal year 2009 for lighting.

"We would hope that the stadium would be built before those funds are even available," Turnbough said before the meeting.

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