CUMBERLAND — Greenway Avenue Stadium improvements are back on a fast-track with a $2 million “jump-start” from the Allegany Board of Education.

Stalled for months because of a lack of funds, the Greenway Avenue project should get under way by November and be finished in time for the 2010 football season, school officials said Tuesday.

“This is what we need to do with this money,” board member Jeff Metz said just before the board voted unanimously to devote the funds to Greenway.

To find the money, officials scoured the budget line by line, identifying funds that had been appropriated but not spent, said Randy Bittinger, finance director. After squeezing out every dime, $2.5 million remained for the board to spend as it pleased.

“You can choose to do nothing and it will go to your fund balance,” Bittinger said, adding that there already is about $7 million in the fund balance.

Superintendent Bill AuMiller recommended that the board devote the funds to Greenway, which is badly in need of renovations. Home stands are crumbling; locker rooms are outdated; concession stands are too small.

Community groups have scraped pennies to raise — with government contributions — about $1.25 million toward Greenway Avenue improvements. Phase 1 of the project, which includes building new stands, a field house and rest rooms, is expected to cost about $3 million.

Built in 1936, the stadium is used by both Allegany and Fort Hill high schools. The board voted to spend the remaining $500,000 windfall to complete projects at Mountain Ridge High School’s new stadium.

“We need to get those two projects jump-started,” said AuMiller, who retires in June. “Finish Mountain Ridge and jump-start Greenway. ... This is certainly a worthwhile project. I don’t think there would be anyone in either community that would oppose it.”

Board President Jane Dawson wondered aloud whether funds might be better spent on textbooks or some of the proposed curriculum changes at the county’s middle schools. AuMiller and Bittinger emphasized that the funds should not be used for recurring expenses, such as personnel, which is at the heart of middle school proposals.

“It’s not being done at the expense of anything,” AuMiller said.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the board also made official its decision to hire David Cox as the next superintendent. Cox, 48, comes to Allegany from Culpeper County, Va., where he worked as superintendent for seven years.

Also Tuesday, the board learned that a comprehensive study of the county’s secondary schools is complete. The board will hear a report on the study at its June meeting, with final results to be submitted by August.

Though it is a comprehensive feasibility study, board member Jeff Metz pointed out that its primary purpose was to study renovations of Braddock and Washington middle schools — not to consider consolidation of Allegany and Fort Hill high schools.

“Personally, I don’t see that as being physically feasible for at least a decade,” Metz said.

Contact Kristin Harty at kharty@times-news.com.

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