May 14, 2014 10:14:36 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
Parents of Columbus High School baseball players are speaking out after the school board denied their request for an indoor hitting facility.
During Monday night's board meeting, the board voted 3-2 to deny the request. The board did not offer an explanation for their decision.
The hitting facility was part of a one-time $1.9 million expenditure request from interim schools superintendent Edna McGill that has been presented to the board three times. The indoor hitting facility costs $125,000. Parents say they have raised $5,000 to help fund the project.
After the board denied the request, Bobby McCullough, whose son is a senior member of the Columbus High baseball team, said he was disappointed in the board's decision.
"I wish one time we would get some school board members on the board who are just like the school board members in Tupelo, the ones in Starkville, the ones in West Point, the ones that are doing positive things in the sports," McCullough said Monday night.
According to McCullough, Columbus High is the only Class 6A baseball program in the area that does not have an indoor facility.
Jim Mullis, another parent, spoke to the board Monday night encouraging them to fund the request. Mullis, whose son is also a senior baseball player at CHS, said while the players work hard, they can't practice in the rain and their performance suffers as a result.
"Last year, it rained for two days before the playoffs," Mullis said. "The kids had to go home. They couldn't practice."
Mullis' son and McCullough's son each received college baseball scholarships for the fall. Mullis said he didn't attend Monday night's meeting on his son's behalf but for the players coming up.
"We're here for these other kids, the ones that don't have scholarships yet," Mullis said. "You're affecting that."
McCullough said having an indoor hitting facility, and a board that supports the sports program, is beneficial to everyone.
"Even the kids that can't even play football or baseball. It's benefiting them because now they're saying, 'OK, they're looking up to those kids,'" McCullough said. "You can use positive peer pressure to affect the whole group."
Parent Jerome Stevenson said he would not give up on the idea of an indoor facility.
"No matter what we'll keep pushing," Stevenson said, "no matter what."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.