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CRUHSD unable to reach separation agreement with ex-superintendent

August 8, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — After an hour behind closed doors in executive session, the Colorado River Union High School District Board of Governors was unable to reach a separation agreement with former Supt. Riley Frei.

A special meeting Monday night — following a work session on setting priorities for construction of the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse — was spent almost entirely in executive session as the board consulted with legal representation in hopes of fashioning an agreement with Frei, who resigned rather than accept a demotion to construction supervisor for district projects, including the fieldhouse.

“We’re still working on the separation agreement,” said board President Kari Hoffman, “so there will be no action.”

The board also took no action after a 70-minute workshop on fieldhouse priorities. Mark Murphy, of CORE Construction, the Phoenix-based general contractor in charge of the $32 million project, answered as many questions as he could but in the end was asked to gather more information to provide at next Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“Our goal is to prioritize ... the best selection of expenditures,” Hoffman said, explaining the purpose of the workshop. That purpose was never met, though board members did gather information from Murphy and Dave Heath, superintendent of the Bullhead City Recreation Division.

Early in the workshop, the conversation revolved around solar power, with board member Kerry Burgess arguing that solar power could lower annual operating costs of the facility north of the Mohave Crossroads shopping center.

Several board members responded that other priorities should be addressed first. Burgess several times asked for numbers — dollar figures — about projected revenue from events, alternative materials and operating costs.

“We have to make the decision” to prioritize, Hoffman said.

“How can we set priorities if we don’t know how much (money certain items will cost)?” Burgess asked in return.

“We have champagne wishes but we don’t have a champagne budget,” board member Donna Williamson said before listing additional athletic courts, floor, concessions and a commercial kitchen as her priorities for the “extras” that aren’t part of the general building contract.

The board did strike something of a consensus on prioritizing the flooring and additional basketball/volleyball courts at the top of the list. The flooring, they agreed, would be necessary to protect the artificial playing surface that will be used for football and soccer competition as well as transforming the fieldhouse into a multi-use facility capable of hosting boat and auto shows and other high-traffic events. The additional courts would expand the fieldhouse’s ability to generate revenue.

Heath, who has experience organizing and scheduling tournaments in Bullhead City, said each additional court could increase the number of teams for a tournament by 10; one court could host a 10-team tournament, two would expand the size to 20 teams and so on. He said a typical basketball tournament takes in a profit of about $1,000 per court. The main floor of the fieldhouse currently has two courts; as many as six more could be installed — if the board agrees that it’s economically feasible within the project budget.

To get some amenities, others may have to be done by cutting corners or completely eliminated. That, Hoffman said, was why the priorities needed to be set sooner rather than later as the fieldhouse takes shape.

“Again,” she said late in the workshop, “the point for us tonight is to prioritize.”

Burgess eventually offered what he thought was a working model: making the fieldhouse “minimally functional” for all of its planned activities, then focusing on “revenue-generating opportunities.”

Murphy said he would provide the board more current figures on expenses — actual and expected for several options.

“That would be helpful to all of us,” Williamson said.

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