Schools in the Eagle Point area will be getting a million dollars worth of repairs and improvements thanks to the district's balanced budget, officials say.
The Eagle Point School Board in its mid-March meeting voted 3-2 to approve moving the money from its contingency funds and into the general fund where it will be used to repair roofs, build an air-conditioning system, expand an elementary school kitchen and cafeteria area, and complete a host of painting projects, said Scott Whitman, the district's business director.
"At least a million is going to be spent," Whitman said, adding the high school track might be replaced as well.
Big-ticket maintenance projects on the district's buildings have been on hold for the past several years as the economy affected funding, and the district's priorities narrowed to keeping schools open and staffed, Whitman said. But cuts were made and the budget is now balanced, he said.
"We are becoming more and more comfortable with the funding levels," Whitman said, adding that maintenance deferred often creates increased costs.
"The longer you put off these repairs, the costlier it can become," Whitman said. "Some projects we will start this year. Others we'll fix next fiscal year.
Board members Jim Mannenback and Mark Bateman voted against the $1 million fund transfer, stating their requests for an itemized list of projects were denied, Bateman said.
Bateman said he wanted to buy a school bus with money from another fund. And he voiced concerns about proposals to spending any of the $1 million on the track, saying a $700,000 grant and about $300,000 in booster club funds were supposed to pay for new artificial turf at the football stadium. (Clarification: The sources of money available have been clarified in this paragraph.)
"It wasn't supposed to cost the taxpayers a penny," Bateman said.
District Superintendent Cynda Rickert defended the proposed upgrades and repairs, adding the district has worked hard to be "very transparent" in its operations.
Bateman might be confusing two separate projects, she said. Replacing the high school track is a separate project from the grant-funded turf replacement. The boosters' project, which will create new end zone areas, was placed on hold until the track repairs can be effected to save money, she added.
"The district didn't want the end-zone work to be done, only to be ripped up while the track was repaired," Rickert said.
Eagle Point High School and White City Elementary School also are going to be getting new roofs, but those costs are allocated in a different fund, Whitman said.
Another project on the list is expanding the kitchen and cafeteria area at Shady Cove School. The current facility is inadequate for the needs of the school, which serves kindergarten through eighth-grade students, Whitman said. The expansion will require moving the band room into a modular building that will be situated on the school grounds, he said.
Rickert praised staff, the board and the community for pulling together to create a "balanced and sustainable budget" that "puts students first."
"These have been hard times," Rickert said. "We really have had to make some hard decisions."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.