Hersey and Wheeling high school students will have a whole new home field advantage next fall.
Both schools will have artificial turf fields thanks to agreements approved by the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 school board Thursday.
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The agreements have the Arlington Heights and Wheeling park districts each paying about $500,000 -- half the cost of installing the fields at the two schools. District 214 will pay the other half, or about $1 million.
Only Alva Kreutzer voted against the plan, saying the district should spend the funds on things like capital projects.
"The perception that 214 has money to spend on synthetic fields bothers me." said Kreutzer, adding that the state still owes the district $4 million.
However board member Lenore Gonzales Bragaw said the fields are an important part of the district.
"The fields are a part of our facilities and are used for marching bands and art," she said. "The fact we were able to find partners is a good thing."
According to a 10-page report prepared by Schuler, the district's six fields are one of the "most underused facilities on our schools campuses" since they are used less than 45 days a year. Gym classes rarely use them and marching bands are often pushed to the parking lots. Marching band invitationals hosted by several of the schools are losing participants because band directors prefer turf fields where the event will take place for certain and their band members will be safe, according to Schuler's report.
The 12-year cost of an artificial surface would be about $927,000, including $900,000 for installation and $27,000 for maintenance. Maintaining a grass field for 12 years costs about $660,000, according to the report.
Park district officials in Buffalo Grove and Mount Prospect said the earliest their park boards would discuss funding turf fields of their own would be in 2012 or 2013.
The fields will be installed this summer.