The Waunakee school board has adopted a recommendation from its budget committee regarding the proposed Warrior Soccer Stadium project. But the decision came with expressed dissent.
Director Jack Heinemann voiced opposition to the project during a Feb. 10 board meeting.
“I don’t think it’s unsafe to play,” Heinemann said in regard to the soccer field. “If we say that that field is unsafe to play, then should we not have home games on that field this spring? Because what we’re doing is basically putting our athletes at risk.”
The comments came after the school board’s budget committee recommended that the district pay for its share of project costs through Fund 41 – the district’s capital-improvements fund.
Heinemann opposed the recommendation on grounds that building maintenance was needed.
“We set up Fund 41 to keep our buildings up,” Heinemann said. “And what we’re doing is we’re taking funds out of Fund 41 to put on a soccer field… You can make the argument that our sports fields are facilities. But at the end of the day, the buildings serve the entire population.”
Heinemann argued that drawing from the account would set a precedent for funding future field-improvement projects, which may limit the amount of resources available for other expenditures.
He cited a need for substantial roof repairs, in addition to other facility-maintenance projects.
“We’ve got major expenses coming up,” Heinemann said. “You’re looking at close to $1.75 million in the short term. We’ve got parking lots that probably need some attention. And I think what you’re doing is setting a precedence to take your eye off the facilities that we have.”
Board member Mike Brandt conceded that utilizing capital maintenance funds to pay for the project might constitute a precedent. However, he said that was not necessarily a bad thing.
“I think it’s a good precedent to set,” Brandt said. “We are saying that we are going to maintain these things as best we can. And I think there’s agreement that this is something we want to be in good condition… We’re going to be putting that money in, one way or the other.”
Clerk Julie Waner pointed out that the new soccer field would be a community resource.
She suggested that the district take time to consider cost sharing with the Village of Waunakee, citing the fact that the district is contributing more than a quarter million dollars to tennis courts.
“I would like us to consider exploring the possibility of collaborating with the village,” Waner said, “like we do with the tennis courts and some other things. Maybe there could be some funding support… If it’s a community resource, perhaps we should consider that as well.”
Superintendent Randy Guttenberg noted that bids for the project were due on Feb. 25.
The school board adopted the budget committee’s recommendation to pay for the district’s share of project costs with capital-improvement funds – those in Fund 41 – in a majority vote.
Rettler Corporation has estimated that the project will cost a minimum of $800,000.