SCARBOROUGH — Replacement of the track and turf at Scarborough High School could be a priority for the Board of Education this year as it begins to form its FY22 budget.

Town and school officials met on Jan. 26 to discuss field condition assessment findings from independent contractor Sport Labs, where the town suggested responsibility of the field belong with the Scarborough School Department, said Superintendent Sanford Prince during a Board of Education meeting on Feb. 4.

Two areas on the report from Sports Labs were marked as high-impact, said Todd Souza, director of Scarborough Community Services. If the track and turf are to be used in the spring, it is recommended that rehabilitation and grooming is needed.

“It’s really time for that conversation of how we’re going to stabilize this field, make it safe for all the users, but then put a plan in place to move this forward as a group to get this project underway,” said Souza.

Over the last couple of years, the town has spent $10,000 to $20,000 on the field’s maintenance, he said.

In the conversation with town officials, Town Council Chair Paul Johnson brought forward a suggestion that the school’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget include replacement of the turf and track in the capital improvement plan, said Board of Education Chair April Sither.

“I think it’s important from a board perspective to keep in mind we’re having two separate conversations here,” she said. “One part is what Todd (Souza) presented and this data and the fact this is really a pressing need for our students. This is not something we cannot afford to have time for. Getting this to referendum and making sure that we plan for this in our FY22 budget, whatever that looks like, is going to be a big priority for us this year.”

Sarah Leighton, a board member, said one of the upcoming agenda items at a school board finance committee meeting will be to look at including the track and turf project in the capital improvement portion of the budget.

The transfer of responsibility to the school department doesn’t mean that the town will no longer be involved in the project at all, said Souza to the board.

“We’ve done most of the lifting on this project in coordination with school staff, so our intent is not to go anywhere,” he said. “We really, truly believe that to get this to pass (referendum), it needs to come through your vehicle. It just really, really does, considering probably 95 percent of the user group is direct student use, so who better to move this project through?”

The town needs to go to referendum on any capital improvement project over $400,000, Sither said.

In 2019, Scarborough voters did not approve a $1.2 million renovation project of the track and turf. Earlier that year, a truck vandalized the field, causing $220,000 in damage, according to The Forecaster.

Souza said, “Discussion needs to be had, but it’s something that’s gonna take a while to put together and understand truly what’s the best for Scarborough as a whole, as we all have financial challenges.”

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