If I had to choose one thing for Perryville High School, which of those three things would it be? Yikes! When I spoke at the Cecil County Council meeting earlier this month, this was the question posed to me by Council President Robert Hodge.
I must’ve looked like a deer in the headlights because he said a few reassuring words to keep me from hyperventilating. Once I found my voice again, I responded with something along the lines of “Turf, because I’m a soccer mom and our soccer team plays on dirt, but the reality is there’s an existing track that will be lost if necessary maintenance isn’t done.”
It’s two weeks later and our track appears to be lost or at least deemed “unfit for use.” Yesterday I was asked where I heard that the track was “condemned” because that term refers to housing and was not the correct term for the current status of the track. Call it whatever you’d like–a winning track team can’t host meets at its home track! I’m sticking with condemned.
A turf field would be a wonderful addition to our school and our community–imagine the housewarming party we could throw! But I understand that turf is expensive and every high school in the county is deserving. The FY 2015 budget request included a line item of $2.2 million for synthetic fields, an amount that would cover the cost for two schools. I’d hate to be the person who has to choose which schools get turf first. But I’m also hoping it would be as gut wrenching as a parent choosing your favorite child.
I will not attempt to justify the argument for turf with “All the schools in Harford County have turf.” Cecil County isn’t Harford County and I’m glad of that. Do our kids deserve turf? Sure, but that is an expensive proposition. Do we want turf? Of course, but you know what they say, “It’s good to want things.”
So if turf can’t happen in the very near future, I (mostly) understand but then some plan and the necessary funds need to be in place to maintain our existing fields.
I’ve heard the “We need a field house. They have a field house,” story plenty. Heck, I wasn’t really even sure what a field house was until a few weeks ago. What I do know is that it would be really nice to have appropriate toilet facilities at games. The restrooms in our current concession building are small (Wondering if they meet ADA requirements for accessibility?) and I’ve been told the toilets are prone to overflows. And at last week’s lacrosse games the rest rooms were closed because of concerns over freezing temperatures and ruptured pipes. This meant we had to run all the way around the outside of the building to use the bathroom.
My biggest reason for wanting a field house–equipment storage. Because there aren’t enough locker facilities at Perryville, the school has repurposed two restrooms in the lobby to house students’ equipment bags. Yuck–but what else are they supposed to do?
The FY 2015 budget request included a line item of $2 million for a field house for Perryville. I don’t know what is included in that estimate. And with all the other needs in the county–schools with treacherous gym floors and in need of new roofs–I’d personally have hard time justifying that kind of money for one school in this economy. But a renovation of the existing concession structure would go a long way.
This Isn’t Just About Perryville & It’s Not Just About Sports
Yes, I want the best facilities for my sons and the other students at Perryville High but I also want that for every child in Cecil County. I don’t want this to be a fight to determine which school wins–every school in the county has a list of needs and wants–in order for positive change to happen, we have to work together.