An issue of controversy on the school board agenda for the Dec. 9 meeting was the replacement of the current high school scoreboards in St. Charles Parish.
The issue was brought up because of an allocation in the budget for $100,000 in major maintenance, with the scoreboards specifically included.
Quotes were presented at the Capital Improvements Committee meeting for new scoreboards, with the cheapest option being over $160,000 and the most expensive being over $590,000.
While some members of the school board think that new boards are still a good idea and others think it could wait, all members agree that those prices were over the budget and not acceptable.
School Board President Stephen Crovetto said that he would still like to see new scoreboards go up in the near future, but that he doesn't think the school district should have to pay for them.
"Nobody else pays for scoreboards. Just about every scoreboard is sponsored by a group, organization or something like that. I feel that's an item we should not have to pay for," Crovetto said.
Crovetto suggested to the committee that a study be done to determine the best option.
"What I'm asking them to do is go back and find out how we can get a free one, basically," Crovetto said. "I'm asking them to pursue avenues in which we seek out how people obtain sponsor-driven boards at no cost to the district."
Crovetto wants the study to include information from other districts that have sponsor-driven boards.
On the other side of the discussion was board member Alex Suffrin.
Suffrin said that he thinks the discussion should be postponed altogether for at least a year.
"I think we can probably make do for another year or two with these (scoreboards)," Suffrin said. "I'm very pro-athletics. I was very supportive of the turf and I think I can defend that decision. But what would a scoreboard do for the kids? I don't think that the benefit justifies the cost."
Suffrin also said he doesn't believe that a free scoreboard would be possible and that if the study goes in that direction that it will not really be helpful.
"I don't buy into the notion of the free scoreboard. It might be free to us but somebody's picking up the tab for it. It may be the sponsors that normally participate with us and we'd be losing out on that opportunity," Suffrin said. "If the study is going to go in the direction of a free scoreboard, I'm just not sure that that's in the best interest of our school district, but I think they're going to explore refurbishing our existing scoreboards."
One thing that Crovetto and Suffrin did agree on was that the project is not a priority.
"I don't think it's a top priority," Crovetto said. "I would eventually like to see us get some new and updated scoreboard systems that come with a way to project real-time images, but the PA system and the speaker system is something that we may address quicker than the scoreboard."
John Rome, the school system's plant services administer, said that the school is not spending so much on the boards currently that buying new ones would be cost effective.
"On average, for labor, parts and equipment it costs about $5,000 a year for both scoreboards combined," Rome said. "The two scoreboards, like every item, have a life expectancy. As they age, you do see maintenance increase on them, but I haven't seen anything that would be atypical."
|These are three of the options that were presented to the Capital Improvements Committee. However, all three options were deemed too expensive.|