Bond issue would fund stadium improvements

Bond+issue+would+fund+stadium+improvements

Ashleigh Atasoy

Stadium Lights
The lights at Wayne Sells Family Field are among those set to be replaced if the bond issue passes. Photo by Morgan Berk

Tomorrow, the city of Columbia will vote to potentially submit a bond issue that will raise $50 million dollars for Columbia Public Schools. If passed, the bond would give taxpayers a four cent increase and cover costs associated with construction, technology, bond fees and building improvements, throughout the district and even including RBHS.

With a potential $1.9 million to gain from the bond, RBHS would use the money to replace field lights, the concession stand and the field restrooms for athletic facility code compliance. The bond issue will need a 57 percent approval to pass, but RBHS principal Jennifer Mast believes that the school’s stadium facilities are below standard and in need of some definite updates.

“It is important that as a community we have similar standards for all of our schools,” Mast said. “Right now, our facility is below standard, if you look at the other two schools. It is well below standard on the state level, so … that’s really poor as compared to everyone else and just really poor as compared to just a standard, lit football and soccer field. It’s just not good.”

Built in 1979, with funds raised by the Booster Club, the RBHS stadium has seen few updates in the last 30 years. Except for the rebuilding of the press box after a fire and switch from wood to metal seating in the late nineties, the stadium has had no major updates since it was built. With almost no changes to a stadium that was built decades ago, Activities Director David Bones can see basic advantages an updated stadium would have on RBHS events.

“The bottom line is that it that it just helps make … the experience much nicer for anyone who comes to any of our activities or events,” Bones said. “ Anyone who’s been to a packed football game can tell … it would be very helpful for the enjoyment of a football game at Rock Bridge High School.”

The 2014 bond issue is a part of a larger series of similar facility goals that began in 2010 with a $120 million bond. Then, in 2012, a $50 million bond was passed with a 12-cent tax increase. Now, two years later, the city will vote on the third bond in a series of seven spanning over 12 years. Ultimately, Mast believes that the series of bonds serve as a way the community can show its support not only for RBHS or the district but also for education.

“There are so many things to be proud in Rock Bridge, that really have nothing to do with facilities, but people who are really really proud with Rock Bridge are embarrassed with some of the pieces of Rock Bridge, and a lot of that is facilities,” Mast said. “As  community members in Columbia, we all … want it to reflect what’s important to us and education has always been important to us in Columbia. So, if we as a city can, and as a community can show that we support schools in keeping their facilities kind of, again, up to a minimum standard, and make sure that teachers are great and make sure that schools are great and make sure that facilities are great, all those things, that’s a community responsibility and we want the things we support to reflect our values in our community.”

By Ashleigh Atasoy

How will you vote in tomorrow’s election? If passed, do you agree with RBHS’s allocations?