Through an agreement between the El Dorado YMCA and USD 490, students at the new El Dorado Middle School will have a turf field for soccer and football when the new school opens.
The El Dorado Board of Education unanimously approved an agreement with the YMCA for the Greater Wichita YMCA to construct the fields during their meeting Monday evening.
"We're really excited to offer a playing surface at no expense to our district," said Superintendent Sue Givens. "It is nice to have a playing surface that mirrors that which the community supported (in BG Products Veterans Sports Complex)."
The field came about through a proposal by the YMCA to the district.
"The Wichita Metro YMCA has continued to address areas that could impact El Dorado and they saw a need for turf for soccer and football," said Brance Crawford, El Dorado YMCA Board chair.
The El Dorado YMCA Advisory Board continued to discuss the item and saw a need for soccer, especially with the school district moving forward with competitive soccer.
"The advisory board thought it would be a great partnership with USD 490," Crawford said.
With the agreement, the YMCA will construct the turf and provide portable bleachers for a cost of $630,000. The school district will be constructing a four-lane track and the fencing around the field.
The field will be full-size and will be marked for football, soccer and t-ball, with two smaller fields marked providing the option to play two soccer games concurrently.
The middle school would be using it as a surface for PE classes and practices, with games being played at BG Products Sports Complex.
"We calculated 1,500 students in El Dorado who would benefit directly from it and that doesn't include those who come from outlying areas," Givens said. "We think it's a really good opportunity for the benefit of kids in the community."
Through the 10-year agreement, which is renewable annually, the school district would have access to the field from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and all other times it would be available to the YMCA. They will work on a calendar together for special events.
"We have traditionally had collaborative agreements with the Y for use of our facilities and the city rec," Givens said.
Through the agreement, if the district has a custodian on duty the Y would not be charged anything, but if there is not a custodian on duty, they would have to pay for that. There is not a usage fee. They would have a joint agreement on maintenance, although the vendor of the turf field provides a lot of the maintenance.
The YMCA has hosted soccer for many years, but historically it has ended at second grade and this will let it continue through seventh grade.
Page 2 of 2 - "The number's show a lot of kids start dropping out of sports at about fourth grade," said Shelly Conrady, YMCA vice president of marketing and communications.
Benefits of turf include allowing for more playing time with less down time because of wet weather, being low maintenance and reducing injuries.
They also hope it will attract more students to try sports if they get to play on turf.
With the approval by the board, the Y plans to break ground on the field in the next couple of weeks, having it ready for use by spring 2014 when the new middle school is open. It will be located on the east side of the school.
The turf is being funded by the Greater Wichita YMCA so no local dollars are being taken from the El Dorado Y or the local Strong Kids program.
"Everyone in El Dorado has embraced the Y for more than a decade, and we're excited that this new partnership gives us a chance to give a little something extra back to the community," said Greater Wichita YMCA Chief Executive Officer Dennis Schoenebeck. "It's good for the school district. It's good for the Y. But most importantly, it's good for the kids."