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Chicago Daily Herald
St. Charles North High School will have a new artificial turf athletic field ready for use in August after unanimous approval this week by the school board.
The $1.2 million field will solve years of drainage problems that left the current natural grass field off-limits for large portions of the year. The deal also features the first agreement between the school board and a parent booster organization.
"We've all known that a better field is needed at St. Charles North High School for a long time," school board President Kathy Hewell said. "It's both a need and a desire to improve the safety and to allow much greater use of the field. Let's hope 12 to 14 years from now when a new field is needed, this board has already put in the foundation there to create the next field."
Hewell was referring to a deal reached with the St. Charles North High School Athletic Boosters. The boosters committed to pay $200,000 toward the eventual replacement of the artificial turf when it has outlived its useful life.
That agreement includes the deposit of $50,000 into a district-controlled account in January 2018. The boosters will then kick in another $15,000 each year thereafter until the full $200,000 is raised.
The estimated cost to replace the turf is about $400,000. The original surface should last up to 14 years.
The agreement also commits the athletic boosters at St. Charles East High School to the same $200,000 contribution if the school ever receives its own turf field.
School board member Lori Linkimer said she is "100 percent on board" with the idea of turf fields. But she voted against the agreement with the boosters. Linkimer said St. Charles East should not be included in the agreement because it is for a project that is not yet being contemplated.
"It bothers me that we are making a decision for their board 10 to 12 years into the future," Linkimer said.
Superintendent Don Schlomann took responsibility for both high schools being mentioned in the deal. He said it is important for the schools to receive equal treatment.
"Having two high schools is a little like having two children," Schlomann said. "They are always worried about what the other one's getting. The best way I can handle that is to try and treat both of them the same. I was trying to appease some concerns that they would have that you, as a board in the future, might grant something different. For both the high school fields, we know the difference between want and a need. North is at the need level. But there's always this perception that somebody is going to get a better deal."
The school board has not yet put the actual turf out for bids. They will take another vote when bids come back.
There will be a little bit of wiggle room with the projected price, thanks to a major savings the district benefited from. Bonds sold to finance the field, and improvements at the district's middle schools and the Norris Recreation Center, resulted in a $2.8 million savings the district had not expected.
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