The Rock Hill school board appears to be unwilling to spend $325,000 on a fancy new scoreboard for District Three Stadium, which is appropriate. Board members should be able to come up with a less expensive alternative.
The board decided in September to spend $1 million on artificial turf and a new scoreboard for the stadium. Of the total, $300,000 was designated for the new scoreboard, which would have a video screen that could provide instant replays of the games, and panels that would be rented to advertisers to earn revenue for the district.
The decision raised complaints from critics in the community who said the money should be spent on academic needs or district operations. But the issue was not that simple.
For one, this is surplus money that can be spent only on nonrecurring needs. That means the board is not free to use the money for programs that would entail salary expenses, equipment purchases or other annual expenses in the future. It must be used on a one-time-only expense.
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Proponents of the turf-and-scoreboard plan also argued that, with ad sales, the investment ultimately would pay for itself.
Those arguments did not entirely quell the criticism. And the resurrection of this issue at a time when school districts across the state face cuts in state funding might ignite the debate again.
But board members appear determined to draw the line at spending more money than planned for the scoreboard. District officials informed the board this week that the cost of the scoreboard chosen by the district, plus the cost of installation, would be about $325,000 -- or at least $25,000 more than first budgeted.
Instead of paying the extra cost, at least five of the seven board members said they are leaning toward buying a more modest scoreboard. While they agree that the old scoreboard is worn out and a new one is needed, they don't need "the Cadillac" of scoreboards, as board member Walter Brown put it.
It does appear, however, that several board members favor keeping the advertising panels on whatever scoreboard they choose. That makes sense because advertising is the way the district would earn revenue to offset the cost of the new turf and scoreboard.
Board chairman Bob Norwood thinks it would take about a year to sell the ad slots on the scoreboard. But after contracts are in place, ad sales could significantly reduce the overall cost to the district.
Board members will weigh their options at a meeting on Monday. But they appear to be willing to set limits on the cost of the new scoreboard and settle for one with fewer bells and whistles while retaining the ad panels.
That, we think, is a reasonable approach, and we hope they stand fast when it comes to negotiating with the scoreboard manufacturer.