The School Board in Abilene toured the Abilene High School Cowboys Stadium on Monday to assess the need for renovation. According to the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle it’s a tour that is long overdue.
Schools all over the country face funding problems when it comes to renovation. There’s barely enough money to go around for books, teachers and the overhead of running a facility that houses thousands of students, faculty and visitors on a daily basis. High School sports teams are usually self-funded, which means that the students work together with their school’s faculty to raise the money for travel and some equipment too. These fund raisers depend on a good local economy to raise those much needed funds. Ticket sales, food vendors, bake sales, car washes and a host of other activities contribute to these programs. The money for rebuilding a stadium, locker rooms and concession areas must come from somewhere else.
The school board is last resort for requested funding, but for a program that is virtually self-sufficient, it would seem to be an easy decision for board members. The problem is that this is not the only school in the district and there are many demands on any district school board. It is for this reason that the board members were asked to tour the facility. In the changing room the board was reminded that there were only ten people in the small space that has housed visitors for 19 years. The board members were asked to imagine this space with 65 individuals instead of 10. Among other highlights on the tour were inadequate restroom facilities; a termite damaged storage building where the Booster club sells items during games, and the press box which requires a ladder for second floor access. Leaks, mold and sundry problems such as visibility and privacy issues were also pointed out.
The termite damaged storage shed is a symptom of a larger problem; when funding cannot sustain the buildings on school grounds it is a sad day indeed. I can imagine the pride with which this stadium must have been opened all those years ago. It must have seemed an easy thing to keep up with the stadium, it was all new then. Maintenance, once it is lost, is as if it never existed.
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