BY ROBERT MORALES
CCAISD trustees on Monday approved $600,000 in budget amendments for 2014-2015 that will pay for a new security system for the new Eagle Field, renovations to Karen D. Young Auditorium, equipment for the concession stands at Eagle Field and other items.
Superintendent Marc Puig carefully detailed the need for every budget amendment and provided a rationale as to why trustees should approve the expenditures during the 2014-2015 school year.
Item No. 1 â€“ Band: About $7,200 has been allocated to pay for a band equipment repair kit and for an on-field sound system that consists of acoustic shells as well as repairs to drum major stands. According to Mr. Puig, an instrument repair kit will in many cases avoid having to send an instrument to a repair shop, which would incur not only repair costs, but freight charges as well. Trustee Lisa Cottrell commented that she was in favor of providing the band with what it needed, but she wanted to be assured that the students who use school equipment will be responsible for the instruments.
Item No. 2 â€“ Eagle Field: Approximately $100,000 has been earmarked for a new security system for the new football field. The Advocate will not reveal the type of equipment that will be purchased and installed. Mr. Puig said that vandals had attempted to break into the equipment room and the concession stands probably last Friday morning before the first home game at the new field.
“Put up the [security system] and lock it up,â€ said Trustee Romy Ramirez.
Item No. 4 â€“ Phone system: Mr. Puig said that the current school phone system is about seven years old.
According to a handout provided to trustees, in 2008, CCAISD applied and was awarded funds through the E-Rate system to replace an aging phone system. The district selected a 3Com NBX 3000 system. Parts, including handsets are no longer available to purchase through this company.
In addition, phone systems are no longer eligible for funding through E-Rate. The estimated cost to replace the phone system, installation and handsets is $40,000.
Item No. 5 â€“ Renovations to Karen D. Young Auditorium: The auditorium was built in 1974, and has only had minor renovations. Those renovations include a new heating and air-conditioning system and an internet café that were performed last year. Mr. Puig said that the “significant investmentâ€ of about $100,000 will address a new sound system, a new lighting system and new curtains.
“This is a strategic expense,â€ said Mr. Puig. He said that the project would take about 90 days to be ready for what Mr. Puig called the renovations a “big dealâ€ regarding the fact that CCAISD will be hosting One-Act Play for the first time in many years.
Item No. 6 â€“ Purchase of buses and new vehicles: The buses and the three vehicles that trustees approved during the last budget have not arrived. The purchase must be re-approved under the new budget in the amount of $389,735.23.
During his update, Mr. Puig said that the Town of Van Horn has offered to donate the softball field to CCAISD. He told trustees that they would have to decide whether to accept the donation and make the necessary renovations or else build a new softball field that would be compliant under Title IX federal statute. That law requires any facility built by a public school have the same amenities and features for both sexes.
In the case of the softball field, it is likely that the current facility fails to meet Title IX standards because when compared to the boysâ€™ baseball field, there are stark differences. For one, the boysâ€™ field is near the school facilities and it is considered an outstanding structure because it was built only a few years ago. On the other hand, the girlsâ€™ softball fields have been ignored to a certain degree by previous administrations.
Mr. Puig said that it would cost about $1.4 million to build a new softball field that would be constructed (if approved by trustees) immediately northwest of the new Eagle Field. The new softball field would finally put CCAISD in compliance with Title IX requirements. Mr. Puig said he was “comfortableâ€ asking trustees to build the softball field as long as the district had at least $2 million in the fund balance. The fund balance currently has about $3 million.
As for calling a bond issue, he said that the district is not ready for a bond. “This must be examined more closely.â€ He said that he would continue to be a good steward of the districtâ€™s funds, and that fiscal discipline would always take precedence over placing the district in a financially unsound situation by being overzealous.