ACS tables $2.5M resolution, requests written committment from Bulldog Foundation

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Andalusia City School board refused to act on a resolution Monday to fund a more than $2.5 million physical education facility proposed at Andalusia High School until the Andalusia Bulldog Football Foundation submits its funding commitment in writing.

Board member Amy Dugger expressed concern about entering into an agreement for a large sum of money in such a critical state of the economy without having each party’s obligation stipulated in writing.

“To act in the best interest of Andalusia City Schools, I need it in black and white,” she said.

The Foundation has also verbally committed to paying the $8,000 in attorney’s fees and other costs associated with getting the project under way, and has also pledged to help the school system “bridge” the gap for any other necessary money the QSCB monies do not cover.

The Foundation has verbally committed to paying back the interest on any bridge loans until the school system can pay off the long-term debt owed for the Andalusia Elementary School, which is scheduled for pay off in 2014. The actual amount the foundation will commit is contingent on the final project plan approved by the board.

The school board currently pays $40,000 a month for AES.

The school board is also scheduled to pay off the Andalusia High School band room in 2015, which is an annual payment of $56,000.

Board members David McCalman and Dugger said they would like to see the agreement unanimous for both parties since it’s such a large investment.

Foundation board member Ben Bowden told the school board he and president Alan Williamson had already received an OK from the majority of the foundation members, but both agreed to get signatures from all 11 members by the next board meeting on Mon., Nov. 1, at 6 p.m.

Williamson said in a statement Tuesday he understood the school board’s position.

“I think the school board is doing the right thing by being cautious,” he said. “This is an important commitment, and they are serving us well by proceeding in a thoughtful way.

“So, we (the Foundation) are going to work hard to provide them the assurances they need to move this project forward,” he said. “It is simply too important and too good of an opportunity to let slip away. Our children deserve the best facilities possible. The Foundation is dedicated to that goal, and I believe the school board is as well.”

Board members were also concerned about entering into an agreement of this proportion when school systems are in such dire straits.

Williamson told the board he understood their position, but stated that they would not get as good of a deal on the money if they were to wait until 2014 when AES is paid off.

“This is very important to keep a sense of pride at Andalusia High School,” he said.

ACS received notification earlier in the school year that it was awarded the money from a Qualified School Construction Bond, which can only be used for capital improvements, but only recently received the paperwork authorizing the issuance of the money.

The project would include a 30,132 square foot physical education facility featuring a 50-yard practice field, and a 6,349 square foot facility that will include a classroom, a media and film room, coaches’ offices, showers and toilets, a laundry facility, physical therapy and training room and a hall of honors.

New board chairman Dr. Bill King asked for a motion to adopt the resolution, board member David Bryant made the motion, but when after more than an hour’s worth of discussion, it failed to receive a second the board decided to table it until next week.