Q. Will the Board us district funds for the turf field?
A. No. The Board and the district has said repeatedly that we will not use district funds for the turf when we have academic priorities that take precedence.
Q. Then why was the Board voting to sign the contract with the Engineering firm before it had the funds in hand from the turf committee?
A. First, we tabled the motion initially and approved the motion at our September 8th meeting contingent upon having the funds in hand from the TCTC or them demonstrating that it was placed in escrow for the district. Second, the turf committee is a community group and is made up of members of the community, natch. Quite frankly, I trust them to honor the legally binding MOU we signed with them. I do not think we should treat them any differently from other community groups that use our facilities. For example, the PTA currently owes us $40,000 for a program they run. We have not said, "No, you cannot have that program until you paid." That makes no sense for many reasons. One, we asked the PTA to be a conduit for the program. Two, they are a community group whose word is their bond. They told us they would pay and we know they will without doing a D&B report on their credit. Why should we treat the TCTC differently than the PTA?
Another reason why I think we could have and should have signed the agreement prior to having the actual funds in house is that there are other issues that arise that are critical to the timing. As this is district property, the district has to sign the contract. In order to actually undertake the work on our fields, believe it or not, Albany (Dept. of Ed) needs to approve of the work. If you have ever asked for government approval on a construction project, you know that it takes time. A lot of time. So, in order to install turf in the summer of 2012, we need to file in the early fall and we need to submit an engineering study as part of that filing.
Also, if we file in a timely matter and meet certain criteria there is a chance that the state will give us matching funds for up to around 23%. Why not try to get that money? It was taken from us as tax payers. Let us get it back.
Q. Why is the PTA and others in the community saying that you are rushing into this without public input?
A. Again, I have no idea. That simply is not true. There were significant meetings on this two years ago. Again in the spring , the Board of Ed's Facilities Committee announced and held (June 1st) a public meeting on the issue. There were approximately 30 people in attendance. Of those who attended, some were neighbors with concerns, some were community members with other concerns and some were supporters. We stayed and answered every question and gave anyone who wanted to a chance to speak.
In fact, that meeting was announced by the PTA!!! Below is the relevant section from a copy of the email they sent announcing it.
For the PTA to claim that we are doing anything hastily is simply incorrect and disingenuous. The PTA tried to make some point that the September 8th meeting was not on their precious district calendar, but the September 1st one was and they chose not to attend. In fact, in response to concerns a Board member expressed, the motion was tabled until those concerns could be addressed one week later.
Artificial TurfThe topic of artificial turf in Chappaqua will be on the agenda of the Facilities Committee when they meet on Tuesday June 1 at 7:00pm at the Education Center. Consider attending if you would like to learn more about private fundraising to bring turf to Chappaqua and how the process of gaining approval for a turf field will work. You are also welcome to attend the meeting to raise any other questions or concerns about the facilities of the Chappaqua School District.
Additionally, the district did not announce the meeting two hours before it began. The PTA sent out their own email. The district posted the meeting on its website and sent out an announcement to everyone on our mailing list that has asked to receive such emails. Ours was sent on Tuesday, a full 52 hours in advance.
And, I personally sent emails to both The Patch and NCN to let them know about the meeting. I certainly would not characterize sending an email to local bloggers to get the word out as anything but full transparency. I cannot control their publication schedule or their editorial decision on what is worthy of being blogged about.