Board gives OK for stadium lights

Final approval to begin construction at 10 schools still subject to hearings

High Schools

October 10, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Board of Education last night gave initial approval for lighting all of the county high school stadium fields with a 5-0 vote.

For the past 40 years, only Howard High has had a lighted stadium. Three previous plans to construct lights at the others schools were rejected.

The earliest the lights would go up for the 10 affected high schools would be September, said the county's coordinator of athletics, Don Disney. Lighting every high school is expected to cost $800,000, with the full amount expected to be paid through donations. Final approval for construction at each site is subject to public hearings.

"It's a great day for athletics in Howard County," said Oakland Mills football coach Ken Hovet. "A lot of credit goes to Don Disney. His hard work and follow-up made it possible for the board to make its decision."

Disney last night gave a follow-up report to his original Sept. 6 report and succeeded in answering procedural questions board members had posed regarding the evaluation of data from public hearings and the guidelines for financing lights.

"I'm in shock, and a lot of people are in shock," Disney said. "This is a major development. We're not finished yet, but this was the biggest hurdle."

Each school now must hold public hearings after giving 30 days notice, and assistant superintendent Roger Plunkett will analyze each hearing to determine if a school qualifies.

After his approval, citizens opposed to the move will have one last chance to appeal to deputy superintendent Kim Statham. She must give each principal who requests lights her final approval.

Once the schools approved are decided, then fund-raising efforts can begin. No school can construct lights until enough money is raised for all the schools approved.

Fund-raising efforts will be handled by a special finance committee and administered by a Department of Education account manager.

"I voted against it last time, because it was for only one school [Glenelg,] and I wanted it for the whole county," said school board member Sandra French. "This plan addressed all concerns, so it was easy for me to approve it."

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