$600,000 scoreboard for Bearkat Stadium?

RAYMONDVILLE — A $600,000 scoreboard might be looming over Bearkat Stadium this football season.

Monday, the school board will hold a special meeting to consider the purchase through a leading manufacturer of so-called jumbotron video scoreboards and BuyBoard, a purchasing cooperative of state-approved vendors.

Less than three months before the Bearkats open their season, district officials are tight-lipped about the proposed purchase through the BuyBoard, a move that would allow the school board to bypass the bidding process.

“I don’t have any concerns,” board member Jaime Villarreal said yesterday. “I just had some questions and all the questions have been answered. I’m good with everything.”

However, Villarreal, who said he was at a conference, did not specify the questions he had or the answers he received.

Villarreal referred further questions to board President John Solis, who did not respond to several phone calls and messages Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday, other board members referred questions to Solis and Superintendent Stetson Roane.

Roane was out of town and unavailable for comment, officials said.

The school board is considering the $607,000 purchase through Nevco, a Greenville, Ill.,-based company, David Longoria, chief financial officer, confirmed this past week.

“That’s one option,” Longoria said, declining to disclose the school board’s second option.

Last Tuesday, Troy Burns, Nevco’s Texas-based sales manager, presented board members with information about the scoreboard.

Longoria said the meeting included the board’s most lengthy discussion about the proposed purchase.

Some object to purchase

In the audience, some residents such as Diamante Zavala expressed concern some board members apparently want to buy the scoreboard in time for the Bearkats’ first home game, set for Sept. 7.

“They’re not thinking of the students’ best interest,” Zavala, a retired auditor, said Thursday.

Zavala said the board should focus its spending on students’ education in one of the poorest districts in Texas.

The rural district struggling with declining enrollment operates on a budget of $25.3 million.

“They need to concentrate on developing better futures for students,” Zavala said.

No bids?

School district attorney Gustavo Acevedo said the board would not be required to go out for bids if it purchased the scoreboard through Nevco, which he described as a state-approved BuyBoard vendor.

“It’s not that the scoreboard price hasn’t been subject to bidding,” Acevedo wrote in an email. “It’s that the purchasing cooperative has already done all the legal steps necessary to comply with all procurement procedures required by law.”

Steve Fisher, the Texas Association of School Board’s director of cooperative services, confirmed the school board would not have to go out for bids because Nevco serves as a BuyBoard vendor.

For Zavala and many residents, questions surround the proposed scoreboard’s purchase.

No district response

The Valley Morning Star requested Ben Clinton, the district’s special programs director, respond to questions including the source of funding considered to buy the scoreboard and the reason the school board apparently wants to buy it just before the football season, a move that would not allow time for the district to go out for bids.

Clinton said he would address the questions in a statement.

On Thursday, Longoria said the district was preparing a statement that awaited approval before it would be released.

But on Friday, Clinton, who noted district offices were closed, indicated it was unclear whether the district was preparing a statement.

Superintendent likes scoreboard

Roane has had experience with the purchase of at least one other scoreboard.

During his 18-month tenure as superintendent of the Seguin school district, the school board voted 6-1 to purchase a $1.35 million jumbotron scoreboard from Nevco in 2016.

The LED video scoreboard, described by USA Today as one of the largest high-school stadium scoreboards in the United States, stands 51 feet high and 47 feet wide, with 1,403 square feet of high-definition screen space looming over 63-year-old Matador Stadium.

At the time, Roane planned to draw advertising and sponsorship revenue aimed at paying off the scoreboard within two years, according to an article in the San Antonio Express-News.

After it was paid off, the article states, the scoreboard had the potential to become a revenue stream.

“I just want to make sure that if we can do this and we can find a way for it to be self-sustaining long-term, why not offer it to our kids?” the article quotes Roane as saying. “Other people have done it and been successful with it, so we should reach out there and try.”

According to the article, Roane said the video board would offer educational opportunities to students who would be trained to operate it.

Roane also said the scoreboard would help draw events to Seguin, including football playoff games along with athletic and band competitions which would boost the city’s economy, the article states.

It is unclear whether those plans materialized.

Roane resigned in early 2017.