DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Mo Egger, a host for ESPN 1530 AM in Cincinnati, falsely claimed Tuesday on Twitter that Dayton Public Schools had a budget surplus of $100 million and the school system could pay for a new field for Welcome Stadium.
DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli, in a statement to 2 NEWS, said that kind of surplus funds, “is not a reality in public education.”
The tweet was the latest complaint after Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was hurt at a team practice at Welcome on Saturday. Green’s injury wasn’t because of the field but happened after teammate and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick fell on Green’s ankle.
Two Bengals players made remarks after practice that the field had rocks on it and gravel and that it was slippery. Bengals coach Zac Taylor said nothing was wrong with the playing surface.
Outrage took to sports radio and social media afterward, the latest with Egger claiming: “Dayton Public Schools were projected in March to have a $100 million surplus. If they want new turf, they should pay for their own turf.”
But Dayton Public Schools doesn’t have a $100 million surplus.
“I don’t know why they would call it a surplus,” DPS Treasurer Hiwot Abraha said. “This was a fund balance and is budgeted into a five-year forecast. We show it as a cash balance and it’s the budget for the next five years.”
Abraha laid out the district’s five-year forecast in May in a report that’s available on the Dayton Public Schools website. According to the numbers, the district will be in a deficit by the fourth year of the forecast.
“We are going to be in the red in three years,” Abraha said. “How they count that as a surplus, I don’t know.”
Welcome Stadium hosts games for the Dayton City League, among other leagues in the area. It’s hosted more high school football playoff games than any other stadium in the state and has been the home field for the University of Dayton Flyers football team since 1974.
The stadium hosted a Bengals practice in 2010 that attracted 15,000 fans. The success of the practice led to the team semi-regularly practicing in the Dayton area during the pre-season.
In response to Saturday’s controversy, Lolli said the district would gladly accept a new field if the Bengals or Bengal players wanted to pay for one.
In response to Egger’s comment, Lolli said, “The district has to prioritize its spending to serve students’ academic needs first. If we had surplus money we would prioritize that as well … It would be a great thing if a public school district actually did have that type of surplus, but that is not a reality in public education.”
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