Athens ISD board members nix plans for $4.1 million press box

Athens ISD board members nix plans for $4.1 million press box

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - Athens Independent School District board members have opted to halt plans for construction of a $4 million press box at Bruce Field.

The board met Thursday afternoon in a special called meeting to discuss and take possible action regarding the construction. The agenda item called for members to “Discuss, consider and take action, as desired, regarding the construction of additions and renovations to the Bruce Field press box and related budget amendment and transfer and the vote approving same at the February 25, 2019 meeting of the Board of Trustees.”

The board instead opted to rescind a vote to spend $4.1 million for renovations.

“I’m not saying we don’t need a new press box or an updated one to go with our facility, but I think there are a lot of other needs that proceed that need, for sure," said Emily McGraw, president of the Athens Public Education Foundation. “But, I am thankful that they’re taking this time; that they’re going to do a little bit more research. I’m hopeful that they’ll engage the campuses to talk to them about what could you use, what do you need to make the campuses more effective?”

That move follows public outcry and a petition started by opponents who believe the project is “not in the best interest” of the community’s youth.

“As community members of Athens ISD, we request that the Athens ISD Board of Trustees reconsider the motion made on Feb. 25, 2019, regarding the additions and renovations to the Bruce Field press box and the related budget amendment and transfer of funds. We ask that the Board of Trustees represent the community and vote down the original motion. We believe spending $4,000,000 on a press box is not in the best interest of our community’s youth,” the petition reads.

The petition exceeded its goal of 500 signatures, garnering 533.

During the meeting, it was standing-room only.

In 2018, the district again riled residents when it voted to institute a four-day school week next school year. Prior to the vote, Board President Rob Risko discussed the move, saying trustees felt a four-day work week would improve teacher retention.

Under the plan, students will begin the 2019-2020 school year on Aug. 5, with the last day of instruction being May 28.

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