School board sets $4.3 million budget for stadium

Published 10:21 am Monday, November 17, 2014

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The Elizabethton School Board Friday approved the final, $4.3 million budget for the new high school stadium, which thanks to a half million-dollar donation from the Citizens Bank Foundation, will be called “Citizens Bank Stadium.”
The school system is now making plans to move forward with the project.
The donation from Citizens Bank is the largest private donation ever given to the city school system.
“Citizens Bank is proud to be a part of this truly community-driven effort to provide a permanent home for Elizabethton High School athletics and the Betsy Band,” Citizens Bank Chairman and CEO Joe LaPorte III said. “We are proud of the fact that this project allows a new generation of student athletes and musicians to learn the lifelong values of leadership, teamwork and perseverance under the bright lights of new first-rate facilities, which the entire community will enjoy.”
The board voted 4-1 in a special called meeting Friday to approve the $4.3 million budget for the stadium”
“This is a historic day,” board Chairwoman Rita Booher said. “The town has been waiting on this for 40 years, and we have been working on this for seven years. We cannot thank the LaPorte family enough. Their generosity has made a huge difference in this project.”
Along with Booher, all the other school board members expressed their thanks for the donation.
The large donation helps the school system cover the costs of the new stadium. The City of Elizabethton provided a $5 million bond, of which $3.5 million has been set aside for the stadium. The remaining $1.5 million will be used for a new band and music room and classroom renovations at EHS.
With a budget of $4.3 million, the school system was left with an $800,000 deficit to make up from what the bond will cover. Along with the $500,000 donation, the school system will use the systems’s fund balance and smaller donations to fund the remaining $300,000 of the project.
New school board member Susan Peters questioned if the $4.3 million budget included all the costs of the stadium construction. She said after reading the contract, she found the construction manager fees and the cost of the work were included but asked how the architectural fees, engineering costs and heating costs would be funded.
Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss said those costs were separate from the total amount and would be paid from the bond issue, donations and the school’s fund balance. The architecture fees are 5.5 percent of the project’s cost for the stadium and 6.5 percent for the future band room – about $400,000.
The architectural costs were previously approved by the board and almost $80,000 has already been paid.
Peters asked how much the system had received in donations for the stadium.
So far, VanHuss said the school system had received a $50,000 donation from Jason Witten from when he was awarded the Ultimate Tough Guy award in 2008. That donation was used to purchase a $5,000 Gator utility vehicle to be used in the stadium, with the remaining funds going toward the cost of the stadium.
Richard Barker has donated a total of $25,000 to the stadium, presenting the school system an additional $10,000 check Friday to go with the $15,000 donation made in June. Barker’s donations were made in honor of his late wife Marilynn.
The system also received approximately $10,000 when the Elizabethton City School Foundation was dissolved and the collected funds were given to the school system for the project.
Booher, Grover May, Phil Isaacs and Tyler Fleming voted in favor of the maximum budget while Peters voted against it.
Peters said she did not feel the use of funds would be in the best interest of the school system when there were many other capital needs that could be completed with the money, including a covered walkway connecting the gymnasium to the main building at Harold McCormick Elementary.
She said the cost of the project had escalated from the original estimate of $3.5 million. She did not agree with taking the extra funds needed from the school system’s general fund.
The new stadium will have 3,819 seats and a lighted, regulation-size artificial turf field with underground drainage system. The faciltiy will also feature free-standing concession stands, restrooms and ticket booths. The complex will be built at EHS adjacent to the existing parking lot along West Elk Avenue.
The complex was designed by architect Tom Weems and is being built by GoinsRashCain Construction.
VanHuss said the goal was to approve the budget for work on the band room project in January.

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