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School Board Cool To Rep's Barlow Field Ad Idea

REDDING, Conn. – A plan proposed, and then withdrawn, over the summer by State Rep. John Shaban would have allowed advertising at Joel Barlow High School field to raise money to build a new field.

The plan did not sit well with the Region 9 Board of Education, which discussed the issue at Wednesday night’s board meeting, with most members strongly opposed.

Shaban (R-Dist. 135) said he had proposed an amendment to the Redding town charter to expand a town ordinance, passed last year, that allows advertising at the Community Center fields.

“The ordinance doesn’t apply to the other fields in Redding, but we could change two words so that it pertains to any field in town,” he said.

“We discussed it with Mr. Shaban, and he agreed to withdraw it to give time for our board to consider it,” said Catherine Gombos, the Region 9 board chair.

“I’m not if favor of advertising at the stadium. It’s a classroom area and we shouldn’t be advertising to students in a learning environment,” Gombos said.

"I don't believe commercial advertising should be at a school, which has been a position of the board for many years, vice chair Mark Lewis said.

Two board members said they might approve advertising if it was limited, but Barlow Principal Thomas McMorran said, “If we give the opportunity to advertise, we have to give every group the right to advertise. It might be OK to have an ad for home improvement, but do we want to allow advertising for tattoo parlors?”

The board didn’t vote on the issue Wednesday, but may do so at a future meeting, Gombos said.

A proposal to build a new field has “been languishing for years, and it’s time to get it done,” Shaban said.

Easton and Redding have applied for a Small Town Assistance Program (STEAP) grant that would be used for the field and will hear if it’s approved by the end of the year, Shaban said.

“If the board doesn’t want to do it, so be it,” Shaban said of the advertising proposal. “They manage the field and have the option. I want to create as many opportunities as possible to fund and create a field.”

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