Image: Conroe Independent School District is spending close to $1 million in cash to move the Woodforest Stadium scoreboard from one end of the field to the opposite end of the same football field!
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, April 28 – With educational dollars scare and successful educational outcomes even scarcer, Conroe Independent School District’s (CISD) intention to spend close to $1 million to move its Woodforest Stadium scoreboard from one end of the field to the other end of the field is appalling. Conservative activist Jon Bouche told The Golden Hammer, “Our children and their education should be the first and only priorities for the Conroe school district. Instead, this move by CISD seems more like they’re just flexing the muscle of their real estate empire than looking out for the children. This is why we fought so hard for school finance reform.”
What makes the move even more disconcerting is that the Board of Trustees never discussed the expenditure and approved it only as part of a $15.5 million contract for the construction of the Teacher Training Center just north of Woodforest Stadium. The funds, which CISD will pay to Brookstone, L.P., will be $826,500, with an additional $41,325 to PBK Architects, for a total of at least $827,825.
Republican Precinct Chairman and conservative activist Mark Frank told this newspaper, “I know people with trucks, cherrypickers, and tractors who will move it for 700K. All kidding aside, that’s a ridiculous expenditure. This is your typical example of stupidity at its finest. We’ve moved beyond ignorance, when put that kind of price tag on such a low priority, when our students and our children really need the funds spent on their education.”
The funds are not from bond funds but from cash CISD has accumulated for which it could have used on actual education rather than frivolity.
Sarah Blakelock, CISD’s Director of Communications, told this newspaper, “The Woodforest Bank Stadium was chosen for a teacher training center to utilize land already owned by Conroe ISD with the current parking infrastructure. The specific location on the site was selected for the new facility in part due to cost savings as a result of the proximity to storm, water, and other utilities on the premises. The scoreboard is being moved to the opposite end of the field as a result of this construction.”
Blakelock also explained, “The Board of Trustees approved the Guaranteed Maximum Price Amendment with Brookstone, LP for teacher training center at their October 2020 Board Meeting. The estimated cost to move the scoreboard is approximately $826,500, not $2 million. The $826,500 includes the cost to dismantle the scoreboard, store the electronics until the new location at the opposite end of the field is ready, demolish the existing scoreboard support structure, construct the new scoreboard support structure (which is a new shape) in its new location, and purchase safety netting.”
Three members of CISD’s Board of Trustees spoke with this newspaper on the condition of anonymity. None of them were aware of the scoreboard expenditure. The minutes of the October 20, 2020, Board meeting do not reflect any discussion about the scoreboard nor does the videotape of the meeting. Sadly, it’s another instances where the school district’s administration hid a controversial spending item from the Board using steganography, which means to hide something in plain view.
While Woodforest Bank sponsors the scoreboard itself, the taxpayers will pay the exorbitant cost of the move of the scoreboard structure. Deceptively, the expenditure is shown as an “allowance,” which, of course, increases the cost of the contract but also nicely deceived the Board of Trustees so they wouldn’t question what the expenditure even was, assuming they looked at the detail in their Board Meeting book at all.