TIPP CITY — The Tipp City board of education voted to approve the first phase of work on the football stadium at their meeting Monday night.
The $1.1 million first phase will include the installation of a new turf field and is expected to be completed before the next fall sports season. The board approved a contract between the district, the private fundraising group Tipp Pride Association and Bruns General Contracting.
According to director of services Gary Pfister, Bruns recommended tackling the field in the first phase and leaving the new stands for the second phase. Athletic Director J.D. Foust pointed out that the field is a safety concern for the district’s athletes and added that other teams do not want to play there.
Board member Theresa Dunaway questioned the role of the Tipp Pride Association in planning for the stadium project, asking if their involvement had gone beyond fundraising.
“I think they signed up to do everything they can to make sure that the district didn’t have to put any of its money into the project,” Board President Sam Spano said. He added that the board has had meetings with and fundraising updates from the group.
Doll added that she did not want to approve stadium money before approving spending on classroom improvements. Foust stressed that the district is not using any taxpayer money on the stadium project.
“That’s why we formed TPA, because we were going to use zero tax monies and that would leave you guys more opportunities and time to do the buildings and new schools — and that’s exactly what they’re doing,” Foust said. “We’re not spending any of our money.”
The project will use money from Premier which can only be used on athletic facilities, Foust added.
The board also discussed the district’s proposed withdrawal from the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
While competing against area teams at a more competitive level has been “very helpful,” growing discrepancy in school enrollment is concerning to smaller districts like Tipp City, Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said. Tipp City is one of the smallest school districts in the conference with just under 600 students participating in GWOC sports, compared to districts like Centerville with more than 2,000 students competing, Kumpf said.
“Presently we are the smallest district in the GWOC and will be the smallest district again in the new one,” Spano said.
Tipp City joined the GWOC in 2016 and is obligated to stay through 2020, Foust said.
“We’re happy with the GWOC. I love the GWOC, I love the setup of the GWOC. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of discrepancies between the big schools and the small schools that’s been going on for many years. I think it’s got to that point where schools are saying they have to look out for the best interests of our communities and our kids and it’s time for a split,” Foust said.
The new 10-team league, which hasn’t been named yet, will include Sidney, Troy, Piqua, Vandalia-Butler, Fairborn, Greenville, Stebbins, Tippecanoe, West Carrollton and Xenia. The Sidney and Piqua school board have already voted to leave the conference.
“We do have confirmations that all 10 schools are going to do this,” Foust said. “It’s best to move so that we don’t get left out.”
Board member Corrine Doll said that ticket prices in the GWOC were also a cause for concern. Foust said he could not guarantee that ticket prices would go down in the new conference, but said that they would not go up.
Board members also discussed feedback from the recent community engagement session, which was held to discuss facilities planning. Comments from community members following the session raised concerns about the longevity and security of the buildings.
Spano asked the rest of the board how they would like to move forward with facilities planning. He suggested holding at least one more community engagement session.
Doll said that she would prefer that the board vote on the improvements to the middle school and L.T. Ball that were suggested during the last engagement session before holding another one.
“I’d like to decide whether or not we’re going to invest in the current buildings before we decide the other, because that’s a huge piece,” she said.
Vice President Andy Venters pointed out that many of the proposed improvements — which include roofing, flooring and HVAC upgrades — would need to be done anyway.
In other business, the board will be rolling out a new online tool for viewing agendas and other board documents. The new interface will be found on the district’s home page under the “Your School Board” tab by mid-March.
An update from student senate officers, including Makenzie Dietz, was a new addition to the meeting structure. Dietz said the high school students are collecting signatures on a banner that will be sent to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, to “show our support.”
The high school is also planning its annual mock crash for April 19, the Thursday before prom. The theater department will also present the annual spring musical, “Hello! My Baby,” March 15-17.
Two students, Laura Fink and Jessica Miller, have been selected to give talks at Wright State at a TEDx youth event on March 9. They were chosen based on essays submitted to the student magazine, “Inferno.”
Reach Cecilia Fox at email@example.com.