COLUMBIA — Hickman High School is still working to pay Columbia Public Schools $85,000 it owes for artificial turf installed at the school’s football field in 2006.
The district contributed $365,000 of the field’s $756,000 price tag. Hickman Principal Mike Jeffers said the original plan was to have the portion owed to the district paid off by 2010, but donations have recently slowed.
In 2006, the district initially bid on the field and paid for installation at the same time, Jeffers said.
The balance due on the field affects the district’s capital project funds, said Linda Quinley, the district’s director of business services. This means that the $85,000 will not be available for additional projects within the district until Hickman pays it off.
“The $85,000 as it comes back into the capital projects fund can be used anywhere across the district depending upon where it is needed,” Quinley said.
The last check the booster club presented to Doug Mirts, assistant principal for activities and athletics, was during Hickman’s senior awards ceremony on May 28 for $2,000, Jeffers said. Hickman began its fundraising efforts late and has been struggling to get donations due to the slow economy, he said.
“We have received several commitments for donations, but with the soft economy those are fewer,” Jeffers said.
In the summer of 2005, school personnel and community members formed a committee to advocate for support and donations. The committee targets alumni and parents groups such as Hickman Music Boosters and Little League football. Fundraising efforts are planned to continue within the walls of Hickman as well as out in the community to reach the goal on time.
A once scarcely used field for activities other than football has now tripled in use since 2006, Jeffers said. It is used more for physical education classes, boys and girls soccer and even by the lacrosse club. The Hickman Marching Band also uses the field more for rehearsals because there are fewer challenges from muddy conditions, bug bites and risk of injuries, marching band member Lizzie Germann said.
Community members and groups are also using the field more, Jeffers said. “Before, we had to ration use to keep the field in tact for football games,” he said. “No outside groups could use the stadium during the season.”
Rock Bridge High School had artificial turf installed at the same time in 2006 and has paid off the $320,000 it owed the district for the field.
“Rock Bridge Boosters had a large portion of their contribution in the bank when the project began, so they have been able to pay their
share entirely,” Quinley said.
She said the recent district-wide budget cuts are not affected by the outstanding balance. “This does not have any impact on the budget cuts, as those all relate to the operating budget, and no operating funds are committed to the field turf.”