Alder board mulls rental policy for new synthetic turf field

Photo courtesy of Jason Ullman
Jonathan Alder school leaders are discussing whether they will allow outside rental of the newly completed synthetic turf athletic field at the high school.

(Posted Aug. 14, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Jonathan Alder High School’s new synthetic turf athletic field is complete. The first football practice on the field took place on Aug. 9. A meet-the-teams night and stadium dedication is set for Aug. 15. The first official sporting events on the field will be two boys’ soccer games on Aug. 16.

The school district’s teams aren’t the only ones excited about the new field. Groups outside the school want to play on it, too, and school leaders are deciding whether they will allow outside use and, if they do, at what price.

“We’ve already had requests from different youth groups of our own who want to get on the field,” said Superintendent Gary Chapman about Jonathan Alder area youth sports programs. “They want to play on the field, to have the experience.”

Chapman reviewed the district’s facility use policy at the Aug. 12 school board meeting and asked board members if they think changes are needed specific to rental of the synthetic turf field.

Currently, the policy allows rental of the high school stadium. Fees depend on who wants to use it. There is no charge for Jonathan Alder residents, school groups, alumni, booster clubs, parent-teacher organizations, Scouts, youth recreation programs and adult education programs. The fee is $500 without lights or $750 with lights for local community groups, such as service clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, civic organizations, churches (for occasional use), adult sports groups, and the county arts council. The fee is $750 without lights or $1,000 with lights for other groups, such as businesses, churches (for regular use), and other schools.

The facility use policy states that the school board considers the school premises to be “a community center operating in partnership with other groups within the community” and encourages community groups to use them.

However, board president Steve Votaw said the circumstances associated with the new field are different, since the field was paid for primarily through private donations at a cost of over $500,000.

He also stated, “If you ruin this turf, it’s a major expense, probably,” as opposed to repairing a grass field.

Board member Shannon Foust said the district should discourage rental of the field or not offer it at all.

Board member Christine Blacka wondered if the district would need to charge renters a separate fee to have a trained person run the new high-tech scoreboard, which cost over $150,000.

Chapman said the district has “never said no” to requests for renting the stadium. He also noted that some school districts charge, no matter who wants to use their facilities.

Board members asked Chapman to look into what other districts do. They want comparisons for facility rentals in general, plus information from districts that have made the switch from grass to synthetic turf. They also asked him to look into possible liability issues and the scoreboard operation question.

Chapman said he will report back with the information at the next school board meeting, set to take place at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9 at the high school.

Also at the Aug. 12 meeting, Chapman shared key back-to-school dates for Jonathan Alder. They include:

  • Monroe Elementary preschool parent night and kindergarten open house–Aug. 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m.;
  • Plain City Elementary School Year’s Eve for grades 1-4–Aug. 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m.;
  • Canaan Middle School fifth-grade open house—Aug. 19, 6-7 p.m.;
  • Jonathan Alder Junior High open house–Aug. 19, 6:30-7:30 p.m.;
  • Monroe Elementary School Year’s Eve for grades 1-4–Aug. 20, 5:30-6:30 p.m.;
  • Plain City Elementary Kindergarten Year’s Eve–Aug. 20, 5:30-6:30 p.m.;
  • Canaan Middle School sixth-grade open house–Aug. 20, 6-7 p.m.;
  • Plain City Elementary preschool open house–Aug. 20, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • First day of school–Aug. 21.
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