The District 117 board of education agreed at its meeting this week to enter into a constructive dialogue with a group that wants to install artificial turf at Kraushaar-Rosenberger Field.
The cost of the field would be around $600,000. Premier Bank Chairman Todd Green has offered a zero-interest loan to help finance the project.
Jacksonville football coach Mark Grounds told the board last month that the money raised would come through a newly-created non-profit organization, not District 117.
School district interim superintendent Dr. Barbara Suelter says originally, the board of education was asked to approve the formation of the non-profit group, but she says the district couldn’t do that.
“The school district can say that ‘yes,’ they want to go forward with this, that they want to work with this group, but they cannot say they have to have approval to do that,” says Suelter.
While she says the district will help in any way it can, she says she has some concerns about the cost of the upkeep the turf will eventually require.
“I don’t know the financial status of the district ten to twelve years from now, and so my concern is the district having the money to be able to replace that turf in a decade,” she says.
Replacing the turf would cost $200,000. Supporters say the school will save $50,000 a year by not having to water or repaint the field.
The board of education’s legal counsel has advised that a donation agreement should be prepared between the board and the group donating the turf before the donation itself is approved.
It was also recommend that District 117 think seriously about requiring the group to fund an endowment for the field’s maintenance.