Split trustee votes assure baseball field improvements

A pair of split votes by Rockdale ISD trustees Thursday assured a major upgrade of baseball facilities at the RHS diamond.

Board members voted 4-2-1 to accept the improvements package and 4-3 to hire Bartlett-Cocke General Contractors of San Antonio as construction manager at risk for the project, expected to cost at least $750,000.

Voting in favor of the upgrade were board members James Birkhead, Lee Jenkins, Wayne Fisher and Mike Pruett.

Trustees Lisa Gerthe and Michelle Lehmkuhl voted against and board member Barbara Grayson abstained.

The vote on hiring Bartlett-Cocke went along the same lines, except Grayson switched her vote from "abstain" to "no."

Long-time plan

Trustees discussed the funding of the proposed upgrade at length with dollars and cents issues generating much of the opposition.

"We made cuts to the budget and I don't feel comfortable with spending $750,000 at this time," Gerthe said. "I'm looking to see if this is in the best interest for all students, and until a little more time passes, I'm not ready to spend that sort of money from our fund balance."

Karl Kacir, assistant superintendent for business, said the project will be funded with money trustees set aside to compliment the $28.8-million bond issue which resulted in the construction of the new intermediate school.

"We set aside $2-million in two separate amounts," Kacir said. "One million was for the roadwork on County Road 308 at the new intermediate school."

"The other million was for the other projects, including the baseball field upgrade," he said. "It was always my understanding, and I believe everyone else's too, that this is always what that second million was to be used for."

Athletic offices moving

Kacir said the improvement package will leave the field as is and "redo everything else."

"There will be new fencing, light poles, concession stand and pressbox area.

Athletic department administration offices, currently in the RHS weight room, will move to the new concession building, Kacir said.

Administrators had also considered re-orienting the baseball field to comply with UIL recommendations.

That option turned out to be too expensive, according to Supt. Dr. Howell Wright.

Dr. Wright pointed out some expenses in the baseball field renovations approved Thursday, including site testings and furnishings, are not reflected in the $750,000 estimated cost.

In other business Thursday, board members hired pre-K teacher Christy Walker and accepted the resignation of resource ELA paraprofessional Lanell Baker.

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