With a few finishing touches, new synthetic turf fields at Buffalo Grove, Prospect and Rolling Meadows high schools will be completed early next week, said officials at Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
The synthetic fields, which were approved by the school board in February, will be finished ahead of schedule, by July 30. Fall sports practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 8, said Brian Lichtenberger, director of operations for District 214.
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Each turf field costs $1 million, but District 214 split the costs at Buffalo Grove and Prospect high schools evenly with the Buffalo Grove and Mount Prospect park districts. Elite Soccer of America Inc. is sharing the cost at Rolling Meadows High School. The agreements give the park districts and Elite Soccer shared use of the fields.
Lichtenberger said all three projects are coming in a little bit under budget.
Wheeling and Hersey High schools installed synthetic turf fields last year through partnerships with the Wheeling and Arlington Heights park districts.
Lichtenberger, who's also vice president of the Wheeling Park District board of commissioners, and said he has seen how successful these partnerships can be from both ends.
"Taxing bodies need to work together and we need to celebrate when we're able to make these partnerships happen," he said.
Elk Grove High School is the only school left in District 214 without a new football field, but Superintendent Dave Schuler said earlier in the year that the administration would continue looking for a partner for that project.
According to a study done by the district last year, by sharing the costs with partners, the fields will pay for themselves in less than nine years.
The new fields will not only last longer, but allow more students and groups to take advantage of the space, Lichtenberger said.
"It's all about the students and the community getting more accessibility and more use," he said. "We'll be able to use it literally everyday. You can't do that to a grass field or it will be ruined."
The schools work with their partner entities to create a schedule of use, and district officials said that plan has been free of conflict so far.
A summer without rain has helped keep construction on track, though Lichtenberger said crews had to work through some very hot days.
"It's been really hot, but they did extremely good work," he said. "I don't know how they did it on those days."
District officials will announce dedication ceremonies for each field later this fall.