The ball is rolling on Dallastown Area School District's pursuit of a turf field.
The school board on Thursday gave some official the approvals needed to get momentum going on fundraising for the project, which would be paid for completely by donations. The initial estimate for installing a turf field at the high school stadium is about $1 million.
The board authorized the building and grounds committee to pursue an engineering study for the most appropriate turf option.
And the board gave the Dallastown Area Education Foundation, a community fundraising nonprofit group for the district, its official approval to raise money for the project. The foundation has already helped raise about $140,000, but the board approval will help make potential donors feel secure that the district is serious about getting a turf field, said board member Lauren Rock.
Market Street Sports, a business hired by the board several months ago to help get sponsors to pay for the field, has brought in about $30,000 in sponsorships so far.
On the hook? The board did dispute how to go forward on the project, though. Some board members wanted the district to agree to temporarily fill in the funding gap at a certain point so that construction could begin while the remaining fundraising was done. Those board members wanted the foundation to raise about half the money, or $500,000, before the district would front the other half.
But board member Don Jasmann took issue with the idea, although he said he supports getting a turf field. Jasmann said he didn't want Dallastown to be on the hook for $500,000 for what could be years while fundraising is completed, as there's no guarantee donations would pour in. Board member Mike Noll, who is chairman of the newly formed building and grounds committee overseeing the project, agreed.
"We are essentially obligating this board and future boards to $500,000 ... without any guarantee it'll come back," Jasmann said.
Jasmann wanted Dallastown to front closer to $200,000 and make the foundation and Market Street Sports raise more money. But the majority of the board disagreed, so now the target for the foundation is raising $500,000. A caveat was put in place so that the foundation would have to raise more than that mark if the total project ends up being more than the projected $1 million.
"The momentum is going. We're going to be a district that puts a turf field together at no taxpayer expense, and wouldn't that be nice," Rock said. "That's the passion of the foundation. They are very focused."
Board members believe the turf field, which could be installed within a few years, would allow for more than one sports team to use the field per day and cut down on maintenance. Most neighboring districts have a turf field.
In other action: The board approved naming Sue Cathcart as the new middle school principal, replacing Josh Doll. Doll has since been named assistant superintendent. Cathcart, a former language arts teacher, had been serving as interim principal and has been assistant principal for years. The district's first day of school is Aug. 22.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at email@example.com