Thank you to Richard Dabney for his very well written letter in last week’s paper (“Salado sport still without Home Court advantage”) regarding the benefits of our tennis program and our school district’s need for tennis courts.
Tennis is the only sport in which our students participate in and yet we do not have school district facilities. Our tennis teams have never had their own courts and have been using the courts by the Stagecoach Inn at Royal Street and Main Street. However, those courts were purchased by Barrow Brewery about a year ago and are now being used for a food court area. KD Hill was kind enough to allow our students to use the courts for the 2017 season.
Our facility committee comprised of 58 community members, parents, business representatives, and school district employees discussed the need for tennis courts in our district. However, the committee did not include tennis courts in the specific plans for the May 2018 bond proposal for two reasons. There are a couple of reasons for that.
The first reason is that our limited bond capacity did not allow for all of the facility needs to be addressed in the bond proposal. For example, we could not afford to build a new high school, a new football/soccer/track stadium, or a new performing arts center at this time.
The second reason tennis courts were not included in the bond proposal is that we can afford to build tennis courts out of our district’s fund balance. Fund balance is the official term for a school district’s savings account. Thanks to the fiscal responsibility of our school board and school district over the years, we have about $4 million in our fund balance. The Texas Education Agency requires that we maintain a fund balance of approximately $3 million or more of fund balance, however, that leaves about $1 million that could be used for facility projects such as tennis courts.
We are definitely going to build tennis courts on our property on Williams Road between our high school and the new middle school. However, we are waiting to do so until after we bid out all of the May 2018 bond projects (i.e., new middle school, baseball and softball fields, football/soccer/track stadium renovations, and elementary school improvements) in the next few months. The projected costs of these projects recommended by our facility committee was $51.7 million, however, our bond capacity is only $49.4 million. As we design these facilities with our architects we are working hard to identify ways to reduce the costs and stay within our budget. We are also going to competitively bid these projects to any interested construction companies to get the best value for our district. Once we complete the bidding process in a few months, we will know whether or not we need to use any of our district fund balance to support any of these projects. This will enable us to determine how much fund balance we can use to build tennis courts, and thus, how many courts we are able to build.
Our tennis coach and athletic director have ordered equipment for portable courts to set up on our property. They have also contacted neighboring school districts and clubs for our tennis players to use their courts for the upcoming 2019 season. We will have new courts built in time for the 2020 tennis season. These new courts will not only allow our high school tennis players to practice without having to travel anymore, it will also allow us to start a junior high school tennis program.
If you have any questions regarding our tennis program or anything else regarding our school district, you are always welcome to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 254-947-6905.