Gonzales High practice turf gets benched by GISD board


During the Gonzales school board meeting last week, Gene Kridler, director of operations for Gonzales ISD, presented a request to consider action approving the ranked offers for the Gonzales High School practice field turf and lighting project, as previously discussed in February. Kridler requested consideration to have this added to the May board meeting for consideration.

“With the help of Coach (Joey) Rivera, the architect and our team, we have come up with proposals for your consideration,” Kridler stated. “We are very excited about that, but of course, with current economic conditions, we did have some high pricing.

“We are asking that the board authorize us to enter into negotiations with the top ranked proposer for consideration at the May meeting to hopefully move forward with the turf installment during this summer.”

The top ranked company presented was Symmetry at $2,264,647.

District 3 trustee Glenn Menking opposed this request.

“I was not comfortable with it from the beginning; this is still a large dollar figure,” Menking said. “I am personally not comfortable with this dollar figure at this time.

“I am not saying no, at this point, but I think we could possibly table it, until we have more known about what we are going to do about the long-range plan, what we are going to do about the new superintendent — to me, there’s too many unknowns to commit to spending $2.64 million.”

Kridler responded, “The only thing I will say to that is that the longer we wait, the higher that price goes up” to which Menking replied, “I understand, the higher everything goes up, so is this necessary? It would be nice, but is it necessary?”

Kridler countered, “Well to upgrade our facilities, compared to the amount of pressure we put on our fields, it’s just something that will help upgrade all of our facilities.”

The rejoinder from Menking was “I agree, but that facility is not the main facility.”

District 4 trustee Josie Smith-Wright added, “Yes, we’re putting the turf on the practice field.”

District 7 trustee Sandra Gorden requested further clarification, and after some discussion, District 2 trustee Justin Schwausch inquired about the cost of current upkeep as it applies to painting/lawn maintenance, etc.

Kridler stated that the grass is cut once per week — with painting once per week on the field (as well as the band field) — with paint alone costing $500 every time the field is painted.

Schwausch asked if the “band would be able to use it as well,” referring to the proposed practice field. Kridler replied “yes, they would, of course we’d have to coordinate the schedules, but I don’t feel like that would be a problem.”

District 1 trustee Gloria Torres joined in, saying “I feel the same as Mr. Menking, maybe we could wait on it, with us getting a new superintendent, maybe right now is not the time.”

Smith-Wright said, “I’ve already expressed how I feel about it. I just think that two-point-whatever million dollars for turf on a practice field, especially when later on we’re going to talk about a bond, for me personally, my concern is getting scores up, getting more children in this district, and then they will have something to play on if we went there, so until we can get there, personally I don’t support this on a practice field.”

Kridler said, “Those facilities would help, like your talking about, bringing extra people in, cause they’re going to look just down the road. Cuero is there and they have upgraded facilities. Luling has an upgraded facility.” Smith-Wright responded with “I appreciate your passion.”

The life of the new turf was then discussed, with the information that the turf would need replacement in 8-10 years.

“If we don’t move forward we are still going to have to do something because it’s not at a level,” Kridler said. “I take responsibility for this, but I have not put $20,000 of dirt on the field because I thought we were laying turf and used the funds elsewhere, so if that does not happen we’re going to need to bring that up to where Coach Rivera, and frankly me, feel safe on putting our kids on there next year.”

Schwausch asked “At this time right now, it falls to a safety hazard of our students, right?”

Kridler replied, “Ours kids are practicing on it, but just from the wear and tear, from soccer teams being on there the whole year, our football team is still practicing on there, we get a lot of pressure on those fields over there. We have no time to recoup that, so the only thing we can do is put more money on it, which I don’t have a problem doing, We can do that.”

Smith-Wright asked for clarification on the amount compensation increases would cost the district. Comparing the cost of the two, Smith-Wright stated “and that (compensation plan) was something that was really needed, and then we’re going to spend $2.6 million” referring to the higher cost of the proposed practice field in comparison to compensation increases.

Schwausch stated “We’re looking for the future. We have to upgrade the facility at some point. At this point, I could support putting $20,000 worth of dirt on there and make this do for a while.”

President and District 5 trustee Ross Henderson III called for a vote. At this point, Schwausch made a motion to accept, with no second motion made. After an additional call for a second motion, the issue died due to the lack of a motion.