District 113 Board Debates Synthetic Turf for DHS
Board member wary to fund resurfacing project at DHS despite Booster Club support.
Amid pleas from teachers, students and parents for synthetic turf to be installed at Deerfield High School, board member Harvey Cohen had just one question for supporters at the District 113 meeting on Monday.
“Where’s the cash?” he asked about resurfacing Adams Field.
Citing the 1984 Wendy’s commercial in which Clara Pellar quipped, “Where’s the beef?” Cohen insisted on a concrete breakdown of the funding for the new turf before the board voted on the item next week.
“You've got to figure out where the money is coming from,” said Deerfield resident Harry Steindler. “We’re talking about a few hundred thousand dollars, we’re not talking about millions and millions."
Steindler was a member of Citizens Aiming for Responsible Enhancements (CARE) for 113 Schools, the community group that fought in favor of the District 113 capital renovation plan that failed in the April 5 referendum. The ballot measure asked voters to approve a $133 million bond to finance district projects.
"The millions and millions should have come but they’re not coming right now," Steindler said Monday night. "You owe this to the students of Deerfield now and for years to come."
Residents who spoke in favor of the resurfacing project cited an agreement between the Deerfield High School Booster Club and the school board. The loosely stated deal required the school board to provide matching funds if the club came up with half of the necessary funds for the turf ($250,000). The Booster Club would be responsible for smaller, subsequent payments over the following six years.
“We are prepared to write a check for the initial payment on May 2, and we know that we will have all the funds available for the remaining six payments over the next six years,” said Susan Bromberg, president of the Booster Club.
However, Cohen remained unconvinced that this would be a wise use of limited funds, and was unsure how District 113 could be expected to assume the $500,000 responsibility for paying for the turf.
“I’m sorry but I just don’t see our taking on this expenditure, this indebtedness at this point in time,” Cohen said.
Deerfield High School already has wetland improvements slated to begin soon as well as proposals for repaving the parking lots as part of a two- to three-year maintenance cycle. These projects have already exhausted the $400,000 in capital improvement funds available to the high school each fiscal year.
In the event that some unforeseen emergency repairs or projects was needed in fiscal 2012, Cohen asked how these problems would be solved.
“I think that we’d all have to get religious and hope we’d get covered by our insurance,” said Audris Griffith, principal of Deerfield High School.
Superintendent George Fornero added that, historically speaking, emergency maintenance needs at the high school had not occured.
Barry Bolek, assistant superintendent of finance, said that for next week, he would come back to the board with alternative solutions.
The District 113 school board will vote on the Deerfield High School turf at the May 2 meeting that starts at 7:30 p.m. in its administration building.