As I reflect upon a football weekend, which also contained my son's last-ever high school homecoming, my thoughts turn to this article.
The School Board is looking at a list of school renovation projects that can be funded with the windfall received from the state's increasing the alcohol tax. That list of projects originally included the installation of articficial turf at Atholton and Hammond high schools. Well, now that list is under review by the board, and with the politically charged, transparency-paranoid atomosphere we have on the board now, that means "fat chance" for turfing any fields, I'm afraid.
The catch is also, that if the funds aren't used to turf the field, the county's not adding in any funding of its own to get the fields done. So for advocates of artificial turf at the high school fields, the window of opportunity to turf these fields is now.
It's easy to hit the emotion buttons and ask "why turf the fields when parents and teachers have to dig out of their own pockets to provide for school supplies?" or other such questions. No one is going to question that there aren't a lot of alternative uses for this funding.
Here's why turfing the fields is improtant to me. First and foremost, safety. Turfing the high school playing fields will make the fields safer for high school athletes. Second, versatility. Turfing the fields will make the fields suitable for more school and community-related functions and activities. The playing fields don't have to be protected during the summer months as they do now. And wouldn't it be cool for a community to hold a concert or two at their local high school field? Third, cost effectiveness. Although these fields cost about $1 million to install, including all the relevant sitework, the cost benefit of these fields over time is great due to reduced maintenance.
I'm hoping that the school board chooses to keep turfing these schools on the books for the coming year. It only makes sense.