The USD 383 school board approved first reading of a five-year Bishop Stadium synthetic turf fundraising campaign at its meeting Wednesday.
The Manhattan High Booster Club brought the issue before the board in February to begin development of a fundraiser plan. The plan involves the district contributing $200,000 over five years and getting private donations for the remaining cost, approximately $645,790.
Out of the state’s 32 6A schools, only MHS maintains a natural grass field surface. The artificial surface has a 10 to 15 year life expectancy. It would cost $400,000 to replace the turf. Lew Faust, district budget director, said $300,000, or $30,000 per year, could be accumulated in 10 years due to the savings from maintenance and watering the current field.
Jason Hilgers, MHS Booster Club president, said there have been talks with corporate sponsors about advertising on the field. He mentioned having three sponsors at $200,000 each as a possibility.
The sentiment by board members indicated the logos shouldn’t be any bigger than a Big 12 logo on the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, which is between the numbers and a hash mark and is about eight yards wide.
If the district can afford to purchase it, the turf would be used by both football and soccer, moving soccer from the Anneberg Park soccer field.
MHS boys’ soccer coach Frank Alonso said playing on turf at Bishop Stadium would give them a fully flat, quicker playing surface. “It’s a necessity,” he said about the turf. “We’re at a competitive disadvantage not only in the Centennial League but around the state.”
Manhattan High will implement an advisory period for the rest of the school year following the school board’s approval of the idea.
The advisory period, Tribe Time, will be used almost every Wednesday to focus on three initiatives: anti-bullying/safe schools, the connection between education and employment/career readiness, and individual student performance. A few Wednesdays will be used for a clubs and organizations period, which has been used in the past.
The first advisory period – Sept. 26 – will deal with grade check, study skills, test prep and scholarship work. The following two Wednesdays would deal with connecting education and employment and leadership/communication teambuilding, respectively.
The time needed to hold Tribe Time will be created by conducting Wednesday classes on what is known as an activity schedule. That schedule removes three minutes from each period, creating 21 minutes for Tribe Time. Fourth hour teachers will guide Tribe Time exercises.
“I continue to believe that it will serve a critical need for both east and west campus, so we’re really anxious to get it going,” said MHS principal Terry McCarty.
The board unanimously approved the measure, but board members Pete Paukstelis and Walt Pesaresi had some critical comments. This issue has come before the board several times, including an Aug. 15 board meeting where the board tabled the motion until McCarty presented more details.
Paukstelis, who has taken the lead in pushing for more information, said he would support it despite not being totally pleased with the amount of information presented. “The amount of information here wouldn’t be enough for a grant proposal, for example,” he said.
Pesaresi said he didn’t like the timing of the presentations this year, wanting an evaluation to be done in the spring in order to consider it again for next year. “We’re putting the cart before the horse on this to me,” he said.