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home : schools : schools April 30, 2016

2/11/2014 12:52:00 PM
Triton School Board Turf talk at Triton

By Larry Dobson

Turf was the primary topic at Monday evening's regular Triton School Board meeting. After approving a consent agenda that included paying $713,461.20 in bills, a lead custodian contract for Kevin Eipers and maternity leave for Carmen Sutherland effective late March through the end of the school year, the board heard a report from Activity Director Don Henderson about the results of his inquiries regarding installation of artificial turf on the football field.

Henderson said he talked with Kasson-Mantorville Building and Grounds Director J.J. Williams about the school's turf project. He said Williams told him the annual expense before turf installation was under $5,000 annually; that if Triton decides to install turf the entire area inside the track should be included, not just the football field; that the best way to go is a turnkey arrangement where professionals handle the entire job and then turn it over to the school.

Henderson said the pros of field turf are:

• Consistent playability

• Safety

• Potentially longer seasons

• Student use for other purposes, such as physical ed, community ed, baseball, softball, etc.

• Community use

• Possible rental income

• Showcase asset for community

Cons cited are:

• Initial cost of $662,000 for just the football field

• Another $180,000 if the entire area within the track is done

• Relatively short life span of turf, maximum of 15 years

• Warranty only covers eight years

• Replacement cost of approximately $350,000-$400,000 at today's prices

• Disposal of used turf

• Heat of field on hot days

• Security

• Administration/oversight

Henderson said some savings may be possible by having the construction work bid out to local contractors but that there are potential problems with doing that, too, such as problems with a warranty claim if there should be problems with the turf. It could be difficult to prove responsibility.

The plan that has been proposed requires the school district to pay $262,000 of the $662,000 total cost to do just the football field area. Pat McNeilus has offered to provide $400,000 toward the project which makes up the difference. If the entire area inside the track is included, the district would have to come up with and additional $180,000, a total of $442,000.

Superintendent Brett Joyce reminded the board that the district will probably be going to the voters in the fall for a decision on a levy override to raise $400 per student to alleviate a budget deficiency. He said the levy override, if passed, would add only $91 annually on a $100,000 home.

Board members discussed approaching McNeilus to see if a larger donation is possible but were reluctant to do so for several reasons. Board members questioned whether the projected replacement cost figures are realistic; what kind of problems and expense may be experienced by a future board disposing of the used turf; whether the 15 year lifespan projection is realistic when the warranty is only for eight years; and how the district would handle making sure funds are available when needed for replacing the turf.

Henderson pointed out that he was not trying to sell the turf project to the board but merely relaying the information he had gathered. He said the primary advantages he sees in going to turf are safety for student athletes, early and late season use of the field and better conditions for sports when it rains.

Board members decided they want to find out how residents of the district and students at the school feel about making the change to turf. Joyce said he will put information and a survey about the project on the school website and work with Student Council Representative Carly Gilliland on a survey of students' opinions.

In other business, the board approved:

• a student field trip to Whitewater for the 2014-2015 school year;

• a resolution which is passed annually directing administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions and reasons therefor;

• seeking proposals for food service management;

• the Triton calendar for 2014-2015;

• the revised budget for 2013-2014;

• moving the date of the next school board meeting from March 17, 2014 to March 10.







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