BOE mends relations with Tipp Pride


TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education (BOE) previously extended an invitation to the Tipp Pride Association to attend one of the board’s regular session meetings to attempt to close some gaps and mend the relationship with the Board of Education. Tipp Pride joined the board during their meeting on Monday, Dec. 12.

President Mashell Stith and Vice President Scott George came to represent the Tipp Pride Association at the meeting. The two discusses progress the association has made in raising funds and building the new stadium at the city park, as well as the association’s relationship with the Tipp City BOE and the detrimental effects the board’s recent discussions on the association and its loans have had on the association and their progress.

The Tipp Pride Association started in 2017 after a board decision that removed the stadium from the levy, leaving on the building levy for a new building at the Broadway Elementary location. When the board decided to remove the levy under the assumption that the community would not vote to pass both levies, there was outrage from the community online. There was overwhelming agreement that the stadium needed replaced.

“The belief was that the community would not pass a levy to fund both. The interest in the stadium was high, we needed both and this group, Tipp Pride, was willing to tackle the stadium… The intent was to raise private funds to build a new stadium while the school board and the administration remained focused on solutions for our aging educational facilities. That was our intent, to take that burden off of you and the administration,” said George.

In the beginning of the association, they formed an executive board of directors, an advisory board which was made up of a City Council member, a school board member, members of the athletic and music boosters, community members and a representative from their financial institution. As the project moved on, subcommittees were formed to help behind the scenes organizing and planning the project.

Every individual that has joined the Tipp Pride Association as a member of a committee is a volunteer. None of them are being paid and many of them have put their own money towards to association and the advancement of the stadium project.

The vision of the association was to build a community stadium to support the schools and to be a source of pride for the community. Their mission was to raise private funds “for the community and by the community.”

“That’s what this was about. This was for the community. This was not a school project, the school isn’t the only one who uses it. It’s not a football project, football isn’t the only one who uses it. Soccer, band, and every student that goes to a game, every parent that goes to a game. For the community and by the community. And by the community is extremely important, because I don’t know who else we think is going to fund this,” said George.

How does Tipp Pride Association raise funds? The association held multiple events including fish frys, golf outings and the ball drop. The events were to raise awareness and funds for operating and whatever was left from the events went towards funding the stadium project. Donations are another way the association raised money for the project. They also collected funds through sponsorships or stadium scoreboard advertising which is a recurring revenue as the agreements expire after a period of time. The goal to selling sponsorships and advertising spots is to create a recurring revenue that will help fund repairs and replacements after Tipp Pride is finished. The last way the association raises money is to sell naming rights to physical aspects of the stadium.

The only catch to selling sponsorships, advertising spots and naming rights is that the school district has the final say on which organizations, businesses or individuals advertise or purchase naming rights in the stadium. One of the recent discussions of the board included why the school would allow Tipp Pride to sell naming rights to physical parts of the stadium and according to George, naming rights is one of the main ways the association can raise funds for the project and without the sales the project will slow down exponentially and no work will get done.

Along with speaking about the beginning of the Tipp Pride Association and its goals, George came to the board to speak regarding the loans taken out by the association for the project and the recent discussions the board has had on the topic.

The association had two routes to choose from for funding the project. The first option was to wait until all of the funds were collected and pay for the project at once. The second option was to fund a portion of the plan with community funds and get a loan that will be paid off with donor and sponsorship agreements. Tipp Pride Association went the second route, also noted by George was the fact that any additional funds raised outside of what is necessary to pay the loan goes towards funding the next phase. So far the plan has worked well and the first phase of the project, redoing the field, was completed in about five months. The field was the first phase and was funded by $750,000 from the Premiere Health Contract with the school and the remainder of the $1,445,000 cost was provided by Tipp Pride and the community.

A lot of concern from the community and the school district has come from the order of construction that Tipp Pride had decided on. One of the biggest concerns was the bleachers and why the association is holding the bleachers for the last phase. The first phase was the field because there was no room for error; the stadium is constrained by pre-existing structures to the north, south and east. The only option was to build to the west. The new field is also substantially bigger than the previous field, hence why it was not simply placed where the old field was located.

The second phase is the construction of concession, restroom and locker room structures. Again, many asked why not the bleachers? According to George, the old bathroom structures are in the way of the new home side bleachers and tearing down old structures allows the construction crews to clean up the site and work more efficiently. George also noted /.the new bleachers are anticipated to seat a significantly larger number of people which require larger bathrooms.

Finally, George discussed how the board’s discussions of their involvement in the association’s loans have affected their fundraising as well as what the board can do to take steps towards mending its relationship with Tipp Pride Association.

According to George, the board’s recent discussions regarding what their responsibility is for any of Tipp Pride’s loans have done nothing but hinder the fundraising process. For the first time since their inception, the association has had donors and sponsors not hold up their end of the agreements made with the organization.

“What I will tell you on this is that it has not been helpful to have discussions about whether people have to pay these (agreements) or not. You have hindered our ability to collect. And for the first time in five years, we have people that have not written the check that they committed to writing. And it did not happen until this discussion that happened in this room. I understand that part of that was to understand the liability for loans. The school’s name is not on that loan anywhere, not a single person from the school did that. It would have been easy to find that out by simply asking us and we could bring in the financial institution to validate that,” said George.

Following the presentation from Tipp Pride Association the representatives from the organization and the members of the Tipp City Board of Education discussed ways the board could mend relations with the organization. Suggestions from George and Stith included reinstating a school board member on the board of directors as a non-voting member for the Tipp Pride Association, more support from the board regarding advertising the association and the work they are doing, representation and help from board members at fundraising events, reinstatement of the voluntary payroll deduction for Tipp City schools staff to support Tipp Pride Association and a vote of confidence and support for Tipp Pride from the members of the board.

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