An information session on installing an artificial surface at Coach Chester Roy Stadium was at the top of the agenda at the regular monthly Overton Independent School District board of trustees meeting Monday night.
OISD superintendent Alan Umholtz was quick to clarify that the district had made no commitment to do so at this time and that there would be no allocation of bond funds towards such an endeavor.
“That’s not what the residents of Overton approved when they voted in favor of the bond last year,” Umholtz said. “If we’re going to do something like this, the funding is going to have to come from outside the district, all of our available funding is directed elsewhere for the time being.”
Overton voters approved a $6.5 million bond issue by a narrow 24-vote margin in May of last year.
Ross Whitting, Southwest Construction Manager with FieldTurf, was on hand and presented the board with an estimate for a complete installation for a new surface, complete with endzone and field markings, coming to approximately $600,000.
Board member Jerry Luster inquired of the timeframe for removing the current natural surface and installing the surface, to which Whitting responded that the entire process would take no longer than six weeks from beginning to end.
“That at about plus-or-minus ten days,” Whitting said. “But six weeks would be about right, from beginning to end.”
Board member Mike Rogers asked about the potential for injuries that can come about from using synthetic fields.
Whitting cited a 5-year study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that injury rates were similar on natural grass and synthetic turf.
“You’ll find that, right down the line, the incidence of injuries on a FieldTurf service are comparable to that of a natural surface,” Whitting said. “But on turf the injuries would be less severe, like muscle strains or fatigue, instead of concussions and ligament tears.”
However, the proposed advantages in time as well cost to maintain a natural grass field aside, the bottom line is that the district will either have to either explore more creative financing options or rely upon the munificence of school alumni.
“Our company understands the financial circumstances of schools right now, especially smaller districts like Overton,” Whitting said. “So we’re willing to work with schools to look at finance options that might be available to them.”
Umholtz added that the district is always looking at ways to improve their facilities, and the priority is always to be serving the interests of the students and the greater community.