Artificial turf – (G.W.)

Published February 23, 2012 by justicewg

The story of the artificial turf project is a continuation the school board’s failure to allow the public a voice in school projects. The $175K needed to complete the project was never raised as the board promised, and the money had to taken out of the general fund. And get ready for more school money to be diverted to field turf, because the entire  field will need replaced (estimated at a quarter million dollars) by 2016.

(This article first posted in 2006)

“The school board tried to answer questions about the funding of the FieldTurf project at the July meeting, but failed to answer the important question – will the cost of the project cause cuts in other programs?

Parent Bill Albanese asked how the FieldTurf project was created, and why the swim team did not get this sort of funding support. He asked how it could extract donations from the community without impacting other programs and groups which also depend on donations. The answer he got from the board was more of the glib disinformation about the cell towers.

Departing super Allen continued with the fantasy story that the towers could be considered “new money”, outside of the standard school income. While some of the income is “new” in the sense that a new contact was recently signed, the income from the towers has been used in the general school income pool for years. It makes no difference if some of the money may have been earmarked as capital improvement money – shifting that income to capital improvements simple caused the same amount of money from the general fund to be moved into a different column in the accounts. Calling it “new money” or “outside money” doesn’t change the fact that the tower income is school property, and taxpayer property.

Here’s a simple question to ask the school board members the next time you run into them, or are inspired to send them an e-mail (and please send me any answers that you get).

Do the taxpayers own the money that comes from the cell tower leases?

According to the board, the money from the towers is a fall back position. The school board insists that there will be fund raisers which will pay the outstanding $175K needed for the FieldTurf project.

How will the board ensure that donations to the FieldTurf project will not cut into the donations to the Band Parents Association ? Or the Booster club? Or any other school group?

The group that has been tasked with raising the donations for the FieldTurf project is supposed to be constructing one of those “donation meters” at the end of the field, tracking the money needed to pay for the Turf. Maybe they also need to construct a donation meter for the other school activities, so that we can see how the Turf has eaten into the funding of those groups.

(Later) The donation meter for the FieldTurf has a tube attached containing a pamphlet that tries to sell the FieldTurf project. Some thoughts on reading this pamphlet.

Most of it is extolling the virtues of the FieldTurf surface – safety, value, etc. The project has been approved and funded by the school, it is going to happen no matter what you think of the advantages of FieldTurf. Isn’t it time to move on to telling people why they should help the Andersons fund their field?

The “Financial Status” section contains a deceptive graphic, an oval with the names of school clubs and associations, Grandview and Marble Cliff city, and other groups. The graphic implies that these groups will be funding the project. While these groups may have given their support for the project to be built, I have seen nothing that confirms that these groups will be funding the project – in fact, the mayor of Grandview is on record saying that the city would not spend a dollar on the Turf.

The pamphlet says that the fund raising group plans to raise money through donations and possible community events. How do they keep these donations from hurting other community groups? How will community fund raising events be run without stepping on the toes of other groups? The pamphlet gives no answer – maybe other community groups should be asking these questions.

Here’s a prediction for the fall – the fund raising for the FieldTurf will not do very well, and the school board will be under pressure to deliver on their claim that the project can be done without school money. The board will set funding requirements for all users of the field, including the band. These will be fees for use, but the board at their Orwellian best will call them “mandatory donations”.” (from 2006)

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