The Lawrence school board accepted a donation at its meeting Monday night that included materials and labor to construct soccer shelters at Free State High School. However, they OK’d the donation after the structures were already finished, breaking a general administrative procedure.
“I failed in enforcing that procedure,” said Tom Bracciano, operations and facility planning division director. “The donor wanted them for the first game at home. That was really the stipulation.”
Board members voiced concerns over equity between Free State and Lawrence High School and how they did not like doing business by breaking procedure.
“I just think it’s extremely bad practice to do what we’re doing right now,” board member Mark Bradford said. Bradford was the only member to vote against accepting the donation.
Plans for the shelters had not been finalized when the anonymous donor stepped up to finish the structures at Free State. Chief operations officer Frank Harwood said the district will be placing non-permanent shelters at the soccer field at Lawrence High and will work with the school to see what works best for the situation.
“The shelters that were donated will probably be less expensive than the portable ones,” Harwood said, noting that the bleachers will eventually be built on the west side of the field, where the shelters sit now at Free State, meaning the buildings will have to be moved to the east side.
As for equality, board president Scott Morgan said it will be maintained.
“I think it’s a little out of whack right now just because of the timing of things,” he said. Morgan said he pulled the donation item out of the consent agenda for discussion because donations being acted upon before the board approves them isn’t standard practice. “It wasn’t the way I think things ought to operate. This isn’t acceptable,” he said.
Morgan noted that the board policy regarding donations was pulled by the policy committee to be looked at for changes, like amending the policy for school principals to be able to accept donations under a certain dollar amount.
“We need to have a policy that we can apply consistently in all situations,” board member Marlene Merrill said.