One for the Team

R. J. Reynolds Athletics will receive the capital funds they so desperately wanted after all. During Tuesday’s work session, WSFCS staff proposed to use these funds for athletic facility improvements—which is exactly what R. J. Reynolds’s representatives on the board have been lobbying for all along. But Crowley and Kaplan were not pleased.

The staff recommendation focused not on fields, tracks, or stadiums, but on gyms that had fallen into such a serious state of disrepair they posed a safety risk to students. They asked that capital savings be used to replace the roofs on North’s auxiliary gym and on both RJ Reynolds’s competition and auxiliary gyms. Being an emergency situation, the committee agreed to allocate the savings for these projects with little debate.

WSFCS staff recommended using available capital funds to replace roofs in need of urgent replacement. These posed a safety risk to students.

This is a perfect example of an appropriate use of capital funds for athletic facility improvements. Like most savings accounts, the district’s capital savings are intended for use in urgent or emergency situations.

So why would a win for RJ Reynolds be received like such a loss by Crowley and Kaplan? Especially after funding for the Home Field Advantage proposed stadium design received a resounding no-vote during the July 1 special-called board meeting—to receive funding for Reynolds athletic improvements at the very next facility meeting could be considered a generous conciliatory gesture. Plus, given concerns so recently expressed for student safety, one might expect this to be celebrated as an outright win for their advocacy goals. But at the very least, one could expect a show of gratitude for the team win. But no. 

Kaplan says she was “taken aback.”

Rather than express gratitude, Kaplan was dismayed. Apparently, Darrell Walker had made a private promise that $1.5–2 million in capital savings would be directed to the HFA stadium. Clearly, she considered the use of those funds for anything other than HFA’s stadium to be a betrayal. 

Where it stands now, there are no funds to dedicate to any additional capital projects.

And yet, the committee voted to bring the question of funding for the stadium before the full school board for a vote again. How? Why? 

Good questions. So many questions!

SHP will cover this and and so many more important points discussed during the August 10 work session over the next few days.

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