Education Spending: Grass vs. Artificial Turf Football Fields

To demonstrate how school spending has grown so dramatically, the York Dispatch has a story on the great debate raging on how much to spend on the turf for the school football fields:

Whether they make it to eight years, or beyond, before wearing out remains to be seen.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even something that can cost anywhere from $400,000 to $800,000.

But Lloyd Price, the athletic director at Ringgold, says a synthetic turf field is worth the investment.

Central High School athletic director Marty Trimmer said a normal sod field would cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 a year to maintain properly. Trimmer said the cost of maintenance on a turf field is one hour of grooming time a week.

“All of our outside teams have used it (the turf field) at one time or another for practice because of wet grass fields,” he added.

Trimmer said his school’s price tag for the new field, after credit for the sod and drainage that were already in place, was “probably around $400,000.”

That was four years ago.

York Suburban’s cost for two fields was $1.2 million (part of a $2.5 million project), and Wayne McCullough, business manager for the Southern York County School District, said the cost to install the two fields at Susquehannock was $1.6 million. Suburban began using its turf field last year, and Susquehannock’s fields debuted this year.

This is awful – some high schools are still playing football on grass, like the Steelers? Clearly this is evidence we need to dramatically increase state spending on education to keep pace with property tax hikes. Did someone say Edifice Complex?

Thankfully, Joel Sears offers a voice of sanity,

“The question of whether turf fields are a necessity or pointing out of the advantages of turf fields disguises the real issue, the huge concentration on varsity sports,” Sears said.

“They keep adding (varsity) sports,” he said. “Lacrosse is the latest one. Sports are wonderful, there’s nothing like them when it comes to building team spirit and learning to sacrifice for the good of the team. But why not put more spending into intramural programs and better physical education programs?”

Sears also questioned why every district has to have its own turf field.

“Why not build a few fields and share them?” he asked.