Don’t buy DISD bond rhetoric

By Tad Billmire | Published Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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I’ve read with great interest the letters and articles related to the proposed bonds of DISD. I don’t know why it’s considered to be showing your “ugly side” if you oppose field turf. Even if you do it with a smile?

I “believe” that one can question and scrutinize our leaders and their decisions, proposals and actions (in fact it’s our duty as taxpaying citizens) and still love and appreciate our community and school district just as much as those who blindly follow and agree with everything they do.

Field turf was brought up again as being all great and money-saving. According to the article dated Jan. 31, turf was removed from the bond with the possibility of the board unilaterally installing turf in the future without taxpayer involvement and paying for it out of the large slush fund the district maintains. The average voter continues to be disenfranchised by leaders from the federal level to the local level in a system that’s supposed to value the vote.

I encourage the board members to do your own research on field turf. There is a ton of information on the Internet that shows water usage doesn’t necessarily decrease, maintenance costs can actually increase, the long-term costs go up astronomically, athlete injuries increase dramatically, the turf exposes all associated with its use to known carcinogens, on a 98-degree, sunny day the surface temperature has been measured as high as 199 degrees and the list goes on. Natural grass fields are the better investment.

Wow, I’m amazed by the writers lists of activities that will be held in the proposed indoor practice facility. This is the same rhetoric spewed at every school where such a facility is proposed, and it always turns out to be false.

At the rate we’re going here, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear we’ll be hosting community barn dances, weddings, chupacabra blood sacrifices, and it will be the exact location of Christ’s second coming. The bond election theme could be: “If we build it, He will come.”

We had some wintry weather here a few weeks ago, and we’ve had some rain this week and the whining started about how the spring sports can’t practice, so ‘see, we need this new practice facility.’ Well, where I went to high school, we had long hard winters that often went deep into spring. We had an indoor practice facility … it was called a gymnasium.

With all the bleachers pushed closed, it was about the size of three, full-sized basketball courts. The baseball and softball coaches had their athletes throwing and catching inside. They set up temporary batting cages for batting practice. The track coaches had their kids running and working out. Sprinting was allowed in gyms back then.

My point is Decatur High School has two gyms, and there are four gyms at the middle school campus. A total of six gyms available for indoor practice that sit idle after school this time of year. So, if the teams don’t practice or work out when bad weather occurs, it’s their own fault and not because they don’t have the facilities to do so.

Then there’s this crazy idea mentioned three times that an indoor practice facility at the high school is a high priority of people moving to any new community. I’ll bet you could poll 10,000 people and ask them to list 100 things they would want in a community they were moving to and an indoor practice facility at the local high school would not be listed once. Yet, this idea was presented as if Decatur had this facility it would be like a magnet, drawing people to Decatur from all over the country.

Then there’s this idea that because Springtown and Northwest and whoever have an indoor practice facility, then the obvious conclusion is that we have to have one, too. Well, if your neighbor puts in a pool or buys a Bugatti Veyron, do you do the same? No!

And the answer is No! for this facility as well. It’s this “keep up with the Jones” mentality that has caused school district debt statewide to increase 92 percent over the last 12 years. It’s totally unnecessary and an awful excuse to do something.

The truth is, what we have here is people making excuses to try and justify an unneeded expense, and in the end, they just don’t make sense or hold water.

Nice try; we’re not going to be fooled.

Tad Billmire

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