BOE votes for new GHS stadium
BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
The Butler County Board of Education, at a special called meeting Thursday, Sept. 2, voted to build a complete new stadium at Greenville High School (GHS).
Other items on the agenda included a personnel report with recommendations of hires and the first budget hearing for the upcoming fiscal year.
After approval of the agenda, Butler County Schools Superintendent Joe Eiland gave a short presentation recommending building a new stadium versus renovating the old stadium at Greenville Elementary School.
Eiland said it was expected to cost $2.8 million to renovate the old stadium and he felt the money would be better used to build a brand new stadium for $3.5 million.
He noted the recommendation for a new stadium was contingent on pricing. The figure he presented was from a quote nearly one year old. With approval, he would contact McKee and Associates for an updated exact cost and recommended the board vote in favor.
After two motions were given to proceed with the new stadium, the board then discussed in length that pros outweighed the cons.
The main pros were having a stadium at the high school would alleviate traffic congestion before and after games and provide easier access for visiting teams and attendees of games; it would resolve transport problems for the athletes, band members, and others who have to be bussed to the old stadium, it would allow GHS to host playoff games, it would alleviate handicap accessibility issues, and it would highlight Greenville High School’s as well as the City of Greenville’s presence to travelers on the interstate.
The main cons seemed to be the overall cost and its relation to public scrutiny.
Chairman Michael Nimmer asked Eiland if the quote was accurate, how old was it, and given cost and the unavailability of materials did he believe the project would stay within the first quote.
Eiland replied prices had begun to stabilize and even come down. He then spoke his fear for renovating the old stadium and having cost or scheduling problems and it interfering with games. “By doing this in constructing at a site away from here, at least we will that flexibility,” Eiland said.
Eiland went on to note in conversations with Mr. McKee that he was certain he could work within the original quote and that McKee and Associates were building five new stadiums in Mobile County.
When asked about seating capacity, Eiland said there would be 2,500 on the home side and 1,500 on the visitor’s side.
He also noted there was a possible $600,000 savings by utilizing the gymnasium’s locker rooms for the visiting teams. He added it was allowable by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
With discussion ended, the board voted unanimously to approve Eiland’s proposal.
They next moved to budget hearing for the fiscal year 2021-2022.
Chief Financial Officer Brandi Mosely presented the budget to the board. For 2022, the expected revenues are $26,344,519.55. The expected expenditures are $25,460,250.75.This would leave a reserve of $884,268.80.
When added to the beginning fund balance of $3,747,142.48 the school system would possibly have an ending fund balance of $4,631,411.28.
It was noted in discussion afterwards by the board, COVID funds have been a great help to the system but in two to three years that money would possibly be gone.
The article notes a recommendation to proceed forward with the quote from a specific firm and negotiate the price. On a multimillion dollar project…really ? These are public funds, correct ? Bidding of the project is required ! A project of this size that is funded with public money is required to be advertised for bid for fair competition…….. negotiation with one firm is unacceptable.
The specific firm is an architectural firm. Under Alabama law, a city, county, educational, or other government institution may enter into a professional services contract with a qualified provider of services. Though not specifically discussed at the meeting, if McKee & Associates can validate the prices originally quoted, then the BCBOE will bid the project. In essence, McKee & Associates will provide design services, handle compiling the bid package, and disseminate the bid package to qualified construction firms with specific experience related to building stadiums. They will also recommend, typically the lowest bidder, a company to use for the construction project. They will also provide oversight of the project to ensure specifications are met.
The same process was used for the bidding of the Butler County Sheriff’s new building.