Great Neck Schools estimates potential turf field project to cost $8.7M

Great Neck Schools estimates potential turf field project to cost $8.7M
Great Neck North High School. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

After requests to establish turf fields at the Great Neck Public Schools high schools, the district has estimated the cost to nearly amount to $8.7 million but has not yet decided on whether the fields will be constructed.

“This is not us saying that the administration is recommending turf fields or that the board is making a decision at this time, but for us to start planning we need to know what costs would be and what the timelines would be for us to start making decisions,” Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John O’Keefe said at the board of education’s meeting Tuesday night.

After requests from parents about the possibility of installing artificial turf fields at the district’s schools, Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said the district sought out an investigation to determine if it could be implemented.

The potential locations of the turf fields were proposed at the existing football field at North High School and the grass field on the east side of South High School.

The turf field at North High School is estimated to cost $3,77,331 and another $4,984,361 for South High School’s turf field, according to the district. The total project is estimated to cost about $8,761,692.

O’Keefe said the options for funding the fields include a bond, placing the projects in the annual budget as capital projects one at a time, or presenting a proposition for a capital reserve. He said the proposition is what would be recommended so as not to add to an already high bond debt or make the budget tighter.

Bossert said that while the district presented the feasibility of turf fields, it is not a commitment by the district nor a recommendation by the administration to do so.

While conversations to establish turf fields will continue, the same is not for the establishment of a football team at North High School.

Some student representatives had previously asked the board of education and administration to reinstate a high school football team at Great Neck North High School, citing reasons such as an increase in interest by the student body. The team had previously been disbanded due to low participation.

Bossert said he had continued conversations with the students about the possibility of implementing a football team but found there to not be a significant enough student interest to establish the program.

The superintendent said the student interest did not suffice the minimum requirement to produce a full team.

While the aspiration for a high school football team has been squashed, Bossert said two alternatives have been suggested: establishing an eight-man football program, which is gaining traction yet not yet established in the county, or partnering with a neighboring school district to allow Great Neck students to participate in their football program.

Bossert said conversations are continuing to find a remedy to fulfill the desires for a Great Neck football team.

In other news, Bossert said the school district and its administration also engaged in continued education to advance its anti-bias initiative, including a presentation at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, participation at the United Against Hate Conference at Great Neck Plaza and a trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

“It offers an explicit challenge to all of us, how best to let the painful lessons of the past guide us and our students and families and educators to envision a world worthy of their futures,” board Vice President Grant Toch said. 

While Toch said the answer to issues of bias is not easily discernible, he is confident the district will be well-equipped through these resources.

The board also adopted five policies Tuesday night. These policies included complaints concerning procedures for federal programs, which provides a method for complaints to be filed, as well as policies for the annual budget, claims auditor, independent/external audits and workplace violence prevention.

The Great Neck Board of Education will convene again on Feb. 13.

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