Kirksville School Board votes to move forward with turf

The Kirksville School Board has decided to move forward with its turf project, which will replace the current grass surface at Spainhower Field with artificial turf.

During a meeting on Wednesday, all of the board members except for Jack Ward approved the development of bid specifications for the turf project.

Ward said teachers at Ray Miller Elementary School have told him there are other capital improvement projects, such as installing toilets that flush automatically, that are a "bigger priority " because "the kids don't flush like they should." Also, he said the turf is hard and can get very hot in the summer.

"I have a little reservation with the amount of money it costs to do this, and also the timetable that it has to be replaced. It's going to cost a considerable amount in that time too and it might even be higher than what it is today," said Jack Ward. "So that kind of bothers me."

On April 25, the board plans to begin advertising the bids for the project and on May 9, the board will vote again to award a bid.

Before the board approved moving forward with the project, Superintendent Patrick Williams announced that Preferred Family Healthcare has committed to donating $75,000 over the next three years. Its CEO, Mike Schwend, presented the board with a $25,000 check after Williams' announcement.

Before the school board meeting, the board held a public meeting where they discussed the pros and cons of resurfacing Spainhower Field with synthetic turf.

Superintendent Patrick Williams told the crowd that the the current field is in bad condition and needs repair. According to him, after the corporate donation from the Preferred Family Healthcare and another previous $50,000 donation from the Kirksville Booster Club, it would cost the district $575,000 to replace the current surface with synthetic turf. Williams said the turf would also need to be replaced in 10 years, costing the district another $400,000.

Despite the costs, Williams estimates that a synthetic turf field would get five times the usage that it gets now. Many in attendance expressed support for the project, including a youth football coach who said his 5th and 6th grade players are getting injured because the current grass surface is too hard and has mud holes in it.

"With the turf, you always have a consistent playing surface and there's more cushion there and the problems we 've had with our practice field is because of the amount of usage that we've had, a lot of times within a few weeks of the season, a lot of the grass is gone and you're playing on a pretty much a mud field," said Rick Gooch, a youth football coach and President of the Orange and Black Foundation. "So, I think it'd be a lot better surface for the kids to play on."

Although the majority of people attending the public meeting expressed their support for the project, there were a few who were concerned about possible turf injuries, the process and the cost of replacing the turf, and some questioned whether a turf field would actually get more usage.

The school board has also approved the the purchase of recycled scrap tire playground tiles for the Kirksville Primary school playground. The cost of that project is estimated at $40,000, but the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has offered to pay for half the cost through its Scrap Tire Surface Material grant. Jack Ward also abstained from this vote as well.

The Board also approved the following items during the meeting:

1. To keep Kirksville Area Technical Center seccondary tuition for the 2012-2013 at, $1,950, the same as this school year.

2. To keep the Kirksville Area Technical Center practical nursing program tuition for 2012-2013 at $7,500 and the adult program tuition for 2012-2013 at $4,980, the same as this year.

3. To give a foundation bid for the Kirksville Area Technical Center's Construction Trade program to Chalgren Construction for $43,461.00.

4. To give a materiaals bid for Kirksville Area Technical Center's Construction Trade program to P.E. Jepson Lumber for $51,867.64.

5. To extend the district's transportation contract with Weber Bus Inc. to 2014. The Board will have to negotiate and approve the terms of the contract on May 9.