DPS uses $6M it didn’t spend on school staffing to pay for stadium scoreboard

Confusion continues over financial details of $30 million-plus Welcome Stadium renovation



Dayton Public Schools approved by a 6-1 vote Monday the transfer of about $6 million from the district’s general fund to pay for Welcome Stadium’s new scoreboard.

The money transferred at Monday’s special school board meeting included funds that weren’t spent this school year because DPS didn’t hire as many teachers and bus drivers as the district had planned, according to the discussion.

The total cost for the stadium is still roughly $30 million, similar to earlier cost estimates, according to DPS officials.

“But we never spelled out how we were paying for the $32 million,” school board member Joe Lacey said during the meeting.

DPS Business Manager David Lawrence said there had been some confusion about a final estimate prepared by the former project manager for Welcome Stadium, Skanska, and where all the money for it came from.

“There were a lot of questions here,” Lawrence said. “Is the final cost $32 (million)? What are we already paying? What’s included in this?”

Treasurer Hiwot Abraha said in March the district planned to use existing money to pay for the stadium: $12.8 million came from a previous settlement with the Ohio Department of Education over inadequate state funding; $9.25 million came from federal COVID-19 funding and that DPS said will be used to improve air quality and social distancing at the stadium; and $6 million, approved in February, came from the district’s capital improvement fund.

DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said Monday’s action was based on money that wasn’t used already. She said the stadium project is still on schedule and on budget.

“This action will not impact next year’s budget because funds that were not spent this year will be used for the transfer,” said DPS superintendent Elizabeth Lolli.

But board members said they were confused with the district bringing the proposal forward now, and one board member asked district employees to have all plans figured out before bringing them to a school board meeting.

“This is something that was planned for and expected. I would prefer to have details such as were discussed just now worked out before the meeting,” said board member Jocelyn Rhynard.

Board member Gabriella Pickett voted against the proposal. Pickett asked why the district had not yet done much fundraising for the project. Officials estimated roughly $10 million would need to be fundraised for an additional field and a fieldhouse.

Lolli and Lawrence said the district is working on a plan for fundraising.

About the Author