The Rock Hill school board appears poised to scale back plans for a new scoreboard at District Three Stadium after the original concept turned out to be more expensive than expected.
The school board voted in September to spend $300,000 on a scoreboard with a video screen and advertising panels. Money to pay for the scoreboard at the stadium used by Northwestern and Rock Hill high schools came from a surplus from last year's budget.
Officials now believe the board, plus the cost of installing it, would be about $325,000.
"Because we set aside specifically $300,000, I'm not excited that it actually came in over that," board member Mikki Rentschler said. "I'd like to see if there isn't a happy medium between a 30-year-old scoreboard that's probably about to quit working on us and spending up to $325,000."
District officials are working with Daktronics, a company that manufactures scoreboards, to develop other options. The board could decide to purchase a no-frills basic scoreboard, buy a scoreboard with advertising panels but no video screen or scrap the idea for a new scoreboard all together.
The board also has the option to buy the $325,000 "Cadillac of scoreboards," as one district official called it, but at least five of seven board members said they are leaning against that option or oppose it altogether.
Board members will weigh their options at a meeting Monday.
One piece several people said they would like to see stick is the advertising. Money earned from advertising could help pay for the cost of the board and artificial turf that will be installed this spring. After that, it would become a steady stream of income for the district.
"I think we can probably accomplish some ad sales if we design it right to produce some revenue to cut the costs way down," school board Chairman Bob Norwood said.
It likely would take about a year for the ad slots to be sold.
Another consideration is the economy. A tight budget has lawmakers in Columbia scrambling to find the money to pay for schools' needs. Furthermore, Rock Hill is one of many growing school districts that expect to start getting less money per student thanks to changes in school funding laws.
"As a former athlete, my love is with football, so I'd love to give them everything I possibly could because I would have loved that myself," said Jason Silverman, one of two board members who voted against the scoreboard last fall. "I just don't know if the popular perception of it being important now, during a horrible economic time, is something that I should be enthusiastic about."
The school board now is left balancing the need to spruce up the stadium with the need to prepare for potentially difficult financial times.
"I don't think that the timing is right to spend a lot of extra money, period," board member Walter Brown said. "We've got to have a new scoreboard. The old one's had it, but it doesn't mean that we have to put in the Cadillac. ... If we can look at something that even saves half the money that we set aside, then I think we've got to do it."