St. Charles East to get new turf field by August

A new artificial turf athletic field will be installed and ready for use by next academic year at St. Charles East High School after the school board this week awarded bids to contractors.

Construction on the $1.2 million project likely will begin with preliminary work next month before picking up when school lets out in June, said Seth Chapman, assistant superintendent for business services. The synthetic turf is expected to be ready by Aug. 15, two days before the football team's annual Orange & Black Scrimmage.

The design, timeline and cost of the plan are nearly identical to a project completed at St. Charles North last year, Chapman said. The district is using the same contractors: Union-based Team REIL for developing the site, and Lindenhurst-based Kiefer USA for providing and installing the turf.

"I think once people from East saw how beautiful the project turned out at North, that made them even more excited," District 303 spokeswoman Carol Smith said.

The school board decided to install the synthetic turf at St. Charles North to address safety concerns and draining problems associated with the previous natural grass field. At the time, former Superintendent Don Schlomann told the board it was important for both high schools to receive equal treatment.

Plans to build the same field at East were approved in December. The board also agreed to a deal with the school's athletic boosters, which pledged $200,000 toward the cost of replacing the synthetic surface when it wears out in the next 10 to 13 years. The district has an identical deal with the athletic boosters at North.

The field can be used for more months of the year with synthetic turf than natural grass, Chapman said, noting it can be accessed by sports teams, physical education classes, special needs students, the marching band and various other groups. It's also likely to make the schools' athletic directors happy, he said, especially because other schools in the conference have artificial turf fields.

"From a competitive advantage, I'm sure that's a huge perk," Chapman said. "For the administration and the board, I think it comes down to accessibility. ... That's really the primary motivating factor behind this."

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