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School Board: Cancel stadium

Wants the $3M to go toward $9.6M Potomac Elementary project
The King George School Board came to a surprise decision this week to direct Superintendent Candace Brown to inform County Administrator Travis Quesenberry that it wants to request the Board of Supervisors to cancel construction of a planned sports stadium and instead use the $3+ million to go toward $9.6 million in upgrades at Potomac Elementary School.

The School Board reached that complete turnaround by consensus at a meeting on Monday, Dec. 13.
It was only two weeks ago at a joint meeting on Nov. 30 with supervisors that the School Board was enthusiastic about building a new stadium when reviewing a presentation of the design.
That joint meeting agenda was followed by three other topics. Those were a request for funding an intermediate school in 2012, cost reductions by the School Board in upcoming budget years due to lower anticipated revenues, and proposed renovations for Potomac Elementary School estimated at $9.6 million.
The topic of “High School Stadium Funding” was on this week’s agenda as a discussion item at the request of Dennis Paulsen.
It’s not clear what lead to the delayed reaction to being told there would be limited funding available from the county.  
The School Board has been told that for years, but for the current fiscal year, with slashes to school budgets across the region and the state, a few phone calls and e-mails were useful in convincing a majority of three supervisors, John LoBuglio, Cedell Brooks and James Mullen, to dig into county reserves this past spring and provide a major increase to the division operating budget, giving schools $6 million more than the required local match under the Standards of Quality.
Paulsen explained his delayed epiphany by saying the stadium design was the first item on the joint meeting agenda.
He added that after that, “We were basically told there was no money for school capital projects.” Paulsen said, “Maybe we shouldn’t do a stadium.”
That was all it took this week for the other School Board members to jump on board with that idea.
Renee Parker said, “If we have no relief in sight, I think it’s a matter of priority — is education right now — even if it’s $3 million worth, we can go back and ask our architect what they can do with $3 million, even though we are all excited about a new stadium.”
Parker also said, “If that money would be spent on a stadium, I would be sick every time I saw it.”
Rick Randall said, “We don’t know if we can repurpose the money — don’t know, have to ask.”
He added, “Students in classrooms are more important than ballgames.”
Chairman Lynn Pardee kept hope alive that if enough people ask supervisors for more school funding, it will turn up.
She urged members of the public to lobby supervisors for additional reserve funds to also go toward the Potomac renovation project.
“If you can rally the troops, then speak up and say something and the people you vote on will respond to you. We are only five people here and we don’t hold the purse strings,” Pardee said.
Mike Rose pointed out that the $3 million earmarked for the stadium is far less than the $9.6 million requested for Potomac renovations, saying, “My concern is that would be only a Band-Aid for what we really need.”
Parker countered, “If that’s all we have, then we need to spend all we have on education.”
She added, “Our priority is education. Our priority for that money in the leftover high school fund is for Potomac Elementary.”


Phyllis Cook
Staff reporter

 

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