SSISD rep on Civic Center board concerned about changes
County commissioners limit terms, want to cut school district’s input on board
By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor
June 14, 2007 - One of Sulphur Springs Independent School District's representatives on the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Board expressed concern this week about changes in the Civic Center's bylaws, urging the school board to consider the changes when negotiating future agreements.
During the regular June school board meeting, SSISD Director of Support Services Judy Tipping asked to speak to the board in open forum as a member of the Civic Center Board of Directors. Tipping notified the board of changes the commissioners court is making to the Civic Center bylaws, and how those changes could affect the school district and its representatives on the Civic Center Board.
She said the county officials cited the need to get more people involved in Civic Center activities and to speed up the decision-making process regarding the facility, as well as an interest in commissioners having more say in what's going on if the county is to put more dollars into the facility as reasons for changing the bylaws.
Hopkins County Commissioners Court recommended that the Civic Center bylaws limit what were previously unlimited terms on the board to two consecutive three-year terms. After that time, the representative would have to be off of the board for two years before they could again be appointed.
Tipping, who currently represents SSISD on the board along with Harold Bryant, expressed concern that this would compromise the functionality of the board, which is made up of 11 members who donate their time and services at the Civic Center, with all funds raised through their efforts going directly back into the Civic Center.
"The board is a hands-on, working board. Every dollar raised goes right back in," Tipping said. "With the board changes, will it continue to be a working board? Will volunteers and funds continue to go back in? Volunteers are what makes any place great."
She also indicated that the commissioners court also discussed the school having one representative, instead of two, on the Civic Center Board. The court agreed to keep two "at the current time" but indicated that the issue "may come up" again in the near future.
The commissioners court will also be approaching the district soon to renegotiate contract specifying the amount the school district will be required to pay toward upkeep of the Civic Center.
SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton noted that when the Civic Center was built, the school district deeded 12 1/2 acres to the project, as well as $300,000 from the school's construction fund to build the auditorium at Civic Center, which gave the Civic Center a place for programs but also eliminated the school's need to construct another nearby auditorium for school use. The school also agreed to pay the first $7,000 of the utility bill, an amount which over the years since the Civic Center was constructed has increased to $12,000.
Tipping recommended that the board consider the seats and terminology in the negotiation with the commissioners court, and suggested terminology be worded in future agreements so that the district gets to keep two members they, not the court, appoint and submit for approval.