Upgrades to Brady Street Stadium were tabled by the Davenport School Board on Monday, kicking the topic to the next meeting on Nov. 27.
A complicated argument from the board's president, Ralph Johanson, and the absence of board member Clyde Mayfield were two reasons for the delay. In the end, the board will consider proposals to improve the turf, and other stadium areas including the track, on Nov. 27.
Brandon Krusey, Davenport, pleaded that the board "think big" when it came to stadium improvements. He spoke during the open forum part of the session.
He favors an eight-lane track along with the turf improvements, which officials said are budgeted to cost $2,488,000.
Right now, the stadium has six lanes but proponents said it would be an estimated $400,000 to make it eight lanes all around the track.
This option, according to assistant superintendent Rob Scott, would make the track appropriate for big meets, like the district track competitions. That idea is backed by the athletic directors at all the district's high schools.
Eight lanes are the typical size in the largest school districts in the state, Scott said.
"Give us the tools we need to compete with surrounding districts," said Krusey, a teacher at North High School. "Let our kids be proud of where they come from, and what they can accomplish."
Board members Daniel Gosa and Bruce Potts also spoke in favor of the measure, but Johanson cited his deep frustration with the Iowa Legislature and the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System, or IPERS. The money to enlarge the track would save an estimated nine teacher jobs, he said, adding that his logic on the topic is "complicated."
Potts said Johanson was confusing teacher benefits, which come from the general fund, with structural improvements, which are funded by Iowa's one-cent sales tax. Johanson denied this, and said savings throughout the district help the general fund.
Votes on the measure were tied, with board members Gosa, Potts and Julie DeSalvo favoring the improvements, but Johanson, Linda Hayes and Allison Beck opposing the more expensive measure.
Mayfield was absent and that meant that all tie votes lost, Johanson said.
Mike Maloney, Davenport's director of operations, wanted a vote Monday, because he hoped to get the improvements made in 2018. However, Maloney also said the money was originally in the budget for 2019.
Several people spoke on the need to improve the turf at the stadium, including Gosa. Gosa's son plays football at Brady Street and he has been a coach. The turf is in tough shape in the middle of the field of play, he said.
Paul Flynn, director of athletics in Davenport, agreed with Gosa, and said special workers from St. Louis came up last fall to repair the stadium turf so it could be used in 2017.
"That turf is in bad shape," he said. Flynn, however, was one of the officials who basically favored keeping the track to six lanes. "I'm an old track coach and it's nice to have eight lanes," he said, adding he was not sure the cost is worth the improvement.
Eight-lane tracks are now at North Scott, Pleasant Valley and Clinton, and Flynn said Davenport could host district meets, but it might only be every three years.
In addition, Flynn said the cost to a district to host the big meets does not necessarily translate to big payments from the state athletic union coffers.
Davenport's biggest track meets now are held early in the season, and Flynn said many people go home because of the cold.