During the next five years, Clark-Pleasant schools will get $500,000 from a car dealership to help cover the costs of athletics facility improvements.
Ray Skillman Auto Group is giving the school district the money in exchange for having logos and signs at the football field, the new band practice field and in the gymnasium.
The school district will combine the money with a bond and tax dollars used for a $3.5 million project to upgrade athletics facilities, including the football field, track, locker rooms and band practice field. As the money is paid each year, it will be put into savings or used to pay off the bond, Clark-Pleasant Superintendent Patrick Spray said.
This is not the first time Ray Skillman has given to local schools. In 2011, he paid $1 million to Center Grove, and in 2012, $900,000 went to Perry Township schools, with each amount being paid out during a period of years.
Each of those has been used to help pay for athletics facilities or programs. The money given to Center Grove was mostly used so students wouldn’t have to pay extra fees to play sports, and $50,000 was used to support the high school’s fine arts program. At Perry Township, the money went to installing artificial turf at the stadium, according to the Skillman website.
Clark-Pleasant school officials began seeking money for the athletic upgrades, and that is when the discussions with Skillman began, Spray said.
No official agreement has been drawn up, Spray said. The school board unanimously approved accepting the first $100,000 this week, which will be the first of five installments paid through 2019.
But Skillman will be able to put logos and signs on school facilities. Exactly where those will go and how large they will be is being discussed, Spray said. Some options include putting logos on the turf field, on the scoreboard or around the stadium, he said. School officials want to be sure the size of the signs works well with the company’s logo and graphic design, he said.
The sponsorship was an understood part of the money Skillman was giving the school district. But Skillman’s focus is on giving back to the community, not just advertising, Spray said.
“He just has a real commitment to the community and giving back to the community,” Spray said.
By putting that money into the upgrades of athletics facilities, other tax dollars can be used for other programs and projects, including those that are focused more on academics, Spray said.
“Anything we can do to help offset tax dollars, we want to do that. We were able to do that successfully here; and when we do that, we can steer tax dollars to the classroom and those types of efforts,” Spray said.
Academic clubs and classes will use the athletics facilities, including physical education classes and youth sports. The band will use the new practice field, and that also can be used for parking during other events, Spray said.
“This will definitely be a community facility when completed,” Spray said.
Work on the athletics projects is expected to be complete by the end of July.
Here is a look at the contribution:
Who: Ray Skillman Auto Group
How much: $500,000
When: Will be paid out over five years
For what: Clark-Pleasant will use the money to help pay for $3.5 million in athletic upgrades.
In return: Skillman will have logos and signs on athletic facilities, including the football field, band practice field and gymnasium.