Stafford County will use money donated to elementary schools to pay for new grass pitches at Colonial Forge and North Stafford high schools.
The County Board of Supervisors voted 6 to 1 to use $3 million to pay for the new fields. Colonial Forge and North Stafford are the only two of the county’s five secondary schools that do not have grass pitches. The Stafford County School Board of Supervisors approved a contract with FieldTurf USA, a US-Canadian company specializing in these fields, to install the fields.
The county school board, generally responsible for funding its operations, fought over a source of funding to pay for improvements on the grounds.
The Supervisory Board was presented with two funding options. The method chosen was to use funds from proposals that were included in capital improvement plans for a future elementary school, the county’s 18th Elementary School. Donated funds that would go to Whitson Woods and Winding Creek Elementary Schools would be used to fund the grass pitch in North Stafford.
Winding Woods would provide $411,290, while Winding Creek would provide around $1 million.
Funds for the Colonial Forge turf pitch would also come from proffers earmarked for two other elementary schools, Liberty Knolls West and Westgate. Liberty Knolls would provide $939,827 in funds, while Westgate would provide $506,060 for a total of $1.4 million to pay for the new field.
Carol Leicher and Margaret Lowery led the grass field campaign. For months, the pair based their advocacy around safety issues with grass courts, parity issues with high schools that have grass courts, and grass fields have become the norm in high school sports.
“I’ve talked to coaches from other schools,” George Washington District Supervisor Tom Coen said. “What they told me is that the difference is the speed of the game. On the grass the speed is faster and if they don’t train on the grass they are at a disadvantage.
Griffis-Widewater District Supervisor Tinesha Allen expressed disappointment that action for turf fields is being accelerated over other concerns, such as issues with the North Stafford Fine Arts building, which is separated from the main building. Allen was the only dissenting vote.
“I’m not against Champs,” Allen said. “I just think there are other pressing issues with schools that need to be addressed. I hope the North Stafford Fine Arts building can be resolved as soon as possible.
The council hopes to complete the fields before the start of the 2022-23 school year in August.