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Shorewood School Board moves forward with permanent bleachers

District will lend up to $185,000 to get project rolling

Aug. 30, 2011

Shorewood - The School Board has agreed to lend up to $185,000 in an effort to complete the construction of permanent bleachers at Shorewood High School's outdoor stadium.

The board made the decision after discussing a shortage in donor dollars at a special meeting Monday. The district has been working with a grassroots effort known as the Drive to Distinction, or D2D, for a largely donor-driven project that has been enhancing amenities.

The most pressing need on the table is construction of an under carriage within the bleachers. The under carriage would allow for future developments, as funds become available, including construction of small buildings that could host a variety of events at the stadium.

"Spending that money now might save more money later," School Board President Paul Zovic said.

Allocating $185,000 in district funds was made with the assumption the money would eventually be paid back through donations.

For more than half a decade, the committee overseeing D2D has infused most of the $3.5 million going into the stadium enhancements. Donors' money was flowing five years ago, but has slowed in recent years.

"There's been a tremendous amount of effort that's gone into this project," said John Carlton, a former School Board member who has served on the D2D committee. "But the economy has had an effect."

More recently, D2D has been involved in a "sponsor-a-seat" naming campaign that gives donors an opportunity to have their names, or the name of a teacher or coach, engraved on one of the metal seats.

"We continue to look at fundraising," said Superintendent Blane McCann, noting that the district also is working with the Shorewood Booster Club in raising funds for the project.

Initial projections for the under carriage work within the bleachers hovered between $120,000 and $150,000. But when the district went through a formal bidding process, $185,000 was the lowest quote. The figure includes a contingency fund of about $9,000. The disparity raised concern from most of the board, though all five members did eventually approve allocating the money.

"I feel very uncomfortable with that amount," board member Colin Plese said. "It gives me an uneasy feeling in my stomach."

Board member Michael Mishlove said he and fellow elected officials might want to review an existing board policy on bidding out for work. Mishlove suggested revisions include more of an opportunity for negotiating once bids are received.

"The way we do business has changed," Mishlove said. "There's going to be a lot more emphasis on saving taxpayer money as we move forward."

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