Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2007

Artificial turf subject of questions at forum

September 6, 2007

Turnout was sparse at an Aug. 29 De Soto USD 232 bond informational meeting.

About 15 people were present in the De Soto High School Auditorium to hear Superintendent Sharon Zoellner's presentation on two bond questions totaling $70.5 million. Ballots were mailed to voters earlier that day.

The turnout disappointed school board member Bill Fletcher.

"It would have been nice to see people get more information and hopefully people have information," he said.

In contrast, Zoellner said she was happy to share the information despite the numbers in attendance.

"Our goal is to provide answers to anybody who wanted to hear them, so I was excited about the people who were here," she said.

Artificial turf purposed for the two district stadiums was the biggest topic at the meeting with Zoellner fielding questions about its cost effectiveness and safety ramifications.

Zoellner said the $1.5 million project on Question II of the bond issue would provide for artificial turf at both high schools, and she clarified that it would not be the Astroturf from the 1970s and 1980s.

Artificial turf can be beneficial to athletes because the synthetic grass fibers can provide more cushion and shock absorption than regular grass, Zoellner said. Additionally, the cost of the artificial fields would be recouped from reduced maintenance costs before the average 12-year lifespan expires, she said.

Former school board member Sandra Thierer asked where the items on Question II would fall on the priority list of projects to be funded from the bond proceeds. Question II on the bond referendum asks for $19.5 million for the artificial turf and for two new theaters at the district high schools. Question II can only pass if Question I is passed.

Zoellner said if both questions are passed items in Question I will be addressed first.

"The immediately needed projects are going to happen first," she said.

During Zoellner's presentation, she showed a slide that said a home with a fair market value of $200,000 would see an increase of $8.34 per month for Question I and $3.18 per month for Question II for a total increase of $11.52 per month if both questions pass.

That increase would be incremental, Zoellner said.

"The dollars listed for homeowners are after all debt is issued, so it would not be seen all at once," she said.

The slide show that Zoellner presented at the meeting along with further information is available on the district's Web site, www.usd232.org.

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