You Paid For It: Francis Howell High School Artificial Turf

Full story: Fox2Now 23
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO - In this You Paid For It Report, a St. Charles County school district is struggling with a money mess. Full Story
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FHHSmom

Lake Saint Louis, MO

#1 Nov 18, 2009
This report seems to intentionally omit the real safety issue that was addressed by putting in the turf. Without the turf, FHHS students would have had to be bussed to other schools in the district for sports practices held after school, but would have had to find their own ways home from those schools once practice ended each day. The practice fields at FHHS have been turned into construction sites for the new buildings, leaving only the stadium field, which would not have held up to use by all the teams & activities in a normal year, much less this one of heavy rains! Putting so many more teenage drivers on St Charles county roads, mostly at rush-hour, could have resulted in more traffic accidents and potential fatalities, especially for those kids having to travel Hwys D and DD (see recent news on fatal car crashes on both roads). The cost of the turf is partially offset by the savings of not having to run the buses halfway across the county each day, and you cannot put a price on keeping our kids safe!

Please don't argue that the kids are driving themselves home from FHHS -- I can pick my kids up at FHHS on the way home from work, but would not be able to get all the way up to FH North by the end of practice, meaning that my 16 year old would have had to drive to practice each afternoon just so that he had the car with him to get home. That would have been lots more driving for him, in heavy traffic!

Also, this field is benefitting not just FHHS, but the whole community. The end-of-season football game between FH Central and FH North was held on the turf, since the other two schools' grass fields were unusable due to heavy rains, and local youth football organizations have also used the field for their events this fall. Just like the turf field in Sprinfield, MO, the FHHS stadium is now a community resource.

Seems to me that FOX2 News has aired a slanted report, obviously edited to exclude information that did not fit their pre-conceived notion of wrongdoing, and aimed more at generating controvery than at truly informing the community. I will bear this in mind when I see other reports by this "news" organization, if I can bring myself to tune in again!
FHHS Students

Columbia, MO

#2 Nov 18, 2009
I agree with the previous comment. This news story seemed slanted, not including other important facts. The school is much older than most schools in the area and needs not only the field renovated, but the entire school itself. The turf has been beneficial in many situations, and has initially helped out Howell's, and many surrounding schools', sports teams.
RANDY

Ballwin, MO

#3 Nov 18, 2009
Elliot got all of the facts wrong on this story. The turf cost $650,000 but if they did not do this they would have had to transport students to other schools in the district while they built the new high school. This would have been an additional $300,000. The bids on the new school came in 10 million below what they had in the budget for this school. They now have the money to fund the fixtures and furniture. These funds came out of bond moneys and not budget moneys. This $650,000 did not have any affect on the budget money for teachers or supplies. These come out of two seperate funds. I wish Elliot would have done a follow up to get the current facts. I believe he interviewed the board member in August and things have changed. This turf field was used by Howell high for football games and Francis Howell North had to use it because they could not use their field because it was too wet. Of the twelve high schools in St. charles county 7 of them have or have committed to installing turf fields. Why didn't Elliot investigate Fort Zumwalt? They are putting turf fields on all four of their high schools. Go out and find some real news story Elliot. You really missed it on this one.

Randy
Another Mom

Warren, NJ

#4 Nov 18, 2009
It would not surprise me to find out that one of the opposing board members actually put Elliot onto this story. It definitely left out all the positive aspects of having the turf field - which are already listed in FHHSmom's comments. I am in total agreement with her and Randy here.
Another Mom

Warren, NJ

#5 Nov 18, 2009
I am not in NY! I am in St. Charles County and all four of my children attended FHHS!
Father of 4 FH Students

United States

#6 Nov 18, 2009
Elliott again gets one side of the story. Another Mom is right. I am sure it was a board member and I will call them out. Lafata(I need to resign now) and Hoditts(what have you done lately for the kids) We have been waiting for a new school at Francis Howell for years only for these two (Especially LaFata)to continue to drag their feet. Who elects these guys? Time for some fresh people(Intelligent)people on the board. FHHS Mom has the facts. It is safer than moving kids all over St. Charles county to practice or play and we will have the money left over to furnish the school once completed. This is something every Howell student that uses the field is proud of and helps ease the tensions as the new school goes up around them. This si anexcellent addition and i hope all the Howel schools can afford to go to it in the future eve if my taxes need to be raised to do it.
Proud Mom of 2 FH Kids

Park Hills, MO

#7 Nov 18, 2009
(Yes I live in the FHSD)
In reference to the story that aired last evening. I think that Mr. Hoehn was able to remain clear headed even if Elliott did not seem to have all of the facts. And a news story from months ago, what's the deal with that?
Perhaps Mr. Davis would like to do a followup story regarding a positive spin on what is really going on in the district. Maybe he could show the benefits of the turf and how many of the other schools in the area are also switching to this turf.
Maybe he could report on how not only has FHHS has been able to use the fields in the wet weather conditions that we have had over the last few months, but also other schools and programs have had a chance to continue their events by using this same field.
I think that one issue that really bothers me is the fact that many people (including myself until a few years ago) do not realize that there are different types of money in a school district. There is the operating expense that pays for salaries and benefits, transportation costs, utilities, textbooks or other supplies.
Then there is bond money. The state of Missouri makes it very clear that the money from bond issues can ONLY be used for capital expenditures such as: building new schools, school renovations, and technology costs. By law, bond funds MAY NOT be used for operating expenses such as: salaries and benefits, transportation costs, utilities, textbooks or other supplies.
When someone says that the Turf fields are taking away from staff salaries and benefits, they are mistaken on how money within a school can be used. I definitely do not know everything about schools, school districts, budgets and more but I do know that my children love Francis Howell, their friends, their teachers and knowing that the school district will continue to use its resources wisely and for the best interests of everyone within the FHSD and beyond.
I hope you will take the time to view http://www.fhsdschools.org/NewsCelebrations/t... for more details of this turf issue. There are always two or more sides to any story and Mr. Elliott Davis tends to go look for the money seller even if it is not always the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth.
And I agree with Another Mom and Father of 4... Watching School Board meetings and hearing about comments made on and off the record, I wonder when do you start to worry about what this board member capable of doing? But that is another Story altogether... Hey Elliott, if you really want some news and a story that would make your viewers intrigued, how about investigating this? But I think that might fall more under "Whats the Deal" with Paul Schankman where he answers viewers' questions about local oddities.
Let them eat cake

Dallas, TX

#8 Nov 18, 2009
That's a lot of moeny for some fancy carpet. They should've called Becky's and got it wholesale. LOL

Since: Nov 09

St Charles MO

#9 Nov 18, 2009
Sorry "Let them eat cake" but it is not just "fancy carpet". It is an entire system that involves much more than what you would get from Becky.

Although the upfront costs are higher than planting grass, in the long run it appears to be a better investment. That is unless you like having "shag" in your home.
Number 1 Ping-Pong Player

Columbia, MO

#10 Nov 19, 2009
I think the turf is great. Francis Howell has something new, and nice for once. Mr. West is a G!
potthoff owns CODMW2

Ballwin, MO

#11 Nov 19, 2009
the field was worth it.both football and boys soccer did phenominal this year on it. Boycott fox 2. mr west is a g. nuff said
mzskates

Kansas City, MO

#12 Nov 19, 2009
What a waste of my tax dollars. Those kids don't need artificial turf. Especially when FH has their tin cup in hand asking for more dollars. If the parents want a school with artificial turf why don't they send their kids to a private school instead of busting the tax payers pocket. FH school district is pathatic sloth.
soccer parent

Saint Louis, MO

#13 Nov 20, 2009
Not only does the BOYS sports programs benefit the GIRLS programs do as well. Have you ever had to walk the soccer field before a game in order to notify your players about ankle eating holes made by broken irrigation heads. Scholarships have been lost due to career ending injuries. How about having to play on dirt fields because the football coach claims the field as his. The amount of money saved each year pays for the field - grounds salary and benefits, cutting, feeding, watering, painting, etc. The football team is not the only user of these fields. They also have about a 10 to 12 year life.
Potthoff beat West in TT

Columbia, MO

#14 Nov 20, 2009
Was not a waste of your tax dollars you bum. Pathatic sloth? What a tool.
actually got an education

Ballwin, MO

#15 Nov 20, 2009
the amount of money spent will be saved in the long run. mzskates, obviously your highschool didnt spent money on education, you "pathEtic"sloth.
kbz

Saint Louis, MO

#16 Nov 20, 2009
My only concern is the bond issue was passed without the tax payers being made aware of the turf plan or the cuts to teacher pay and supplies for ALL classrooms. My kids go to FHHS and I don't give a donkey's butt whether they play on grass or turf. I do care whether the Algebra teacher has appropriate credentials and dry erase markers so he/she can write on the board. With pay freezes, good teachers are leaving and I personally know a teacher who has one set of batteries to run the three remote controls in her room. How many of you bring your own toilet paper and light bulbs to work?

Since: Nov 09

St Charles MO

#17 Nov 21, 2009
I understand your concern about the children and teachers having the necessary supplies in the classrooms, however, let me restate this again.

There are different types of money in a school district. School Boards do not decide which items fall under what categories. The must operate under the guidelines of the state.

The Operating expense pays for salaries and benefits, transportation costs, utilities, textbooks or other supplies.

Then there is bond money. This is where money comes from to build new schools such as Francis Howell. Part of building the new school also involves such things as athletic fields.

By selecting Turf, the district was able to use Bond money for this item. Had they stayed with the natural grass and the non-use of these fields during contruction, there would have been an impact on the Operating Funds.

Please note that the state of Missouri makes it very clear that the money from bond issues can ONLY be used for capital expenditures such as: building new schools, school renovations, and technology costs. By law, bond funds MAY NOT be used for operating expenses such as: salaries and benefits, transportation costs, utilities, textbooks or other supplies.

If the turf had not been chosen, then one effect would be that transportation costs would have went up to transport students. This has an effect on Operating Expenses and the Turf effects Bond money.

It costs money to run a school. From maintaining buildings, to paying teachers and staff, to providing supplies and utilities for the buildings. These items are effected by taxes and if "income" from taxes is down, so is income into the school. If your business takes in less money, you have to adjust your operating expense to keep your company in the black.

Again, Operating Expenses and these monies are different than the Bond Money that was approved to build and improve the schools in the district.

Again, I am merely a parent but this is the way I understand these issues.
FHHS Dad

O Fallon, MO

#18 Nov 24, 2009
Elliot would not have a job if he had to give both sides of a story. His job depends on you believing the negative side is the only side of his stories.

FHHSMom is correct that the savings and safety benefits out way the cost of installing this field. This was paid for from the bond measure and not out of the operating expenses. The cost of having to rent external fields for our children to practice on as well as any extra transportation would have to come from the operating budget.

While the school board does not always get it right, in this case they did manage to make a savings for the long term.

As for the parents or others that complain about the loss of funds for the operating expenses, remember if you voted no on any tax increases for the school district, then you are affecting what they have for funds. Also take your vote and elect those to the board that will make better use of operating funds. We still have a couple on the board that are more interested in their own interest then our children.
mzskates

Kansas City, MO

#19 Dec 7, 2009
I think Mr. Elliot hit the nail on the head here. Bringing to light another of the tax waste projects FHSD puts forth. As far as bond vs operating expense that is just a smoke screen administrator's use. In the end the tax payer pays for it. The 64% who approve a bond issue, well they fall into the same category as the CEO's riding into Washington asking for money. If busing is a cost then the parents of the kids who want to play sports should flip the bill for their travel.

Since: Nov 09

St Charles MO

#20 Dec 7, 2009
mzskates I beg to have a different opinion.

The Missouri state has regulations on how Bond Money can be used. Mr. Davis did not point out this fact and actually made it sound like the district could use the same money for the school improvements and pay the teachers.

Sure money used to pay employees, buy books, rebuild a school, etc. does come from someone's pocket. However, by your comments you must be a fan of Mr. Davis and believe a story that may not contain all of the information. Remember his stories are for selling advertising on a TV network, for the shear fact of the "wow" factor, and for twisting facts and verbal attacks. I am not saying there is no government waste. Why look up at Capitol Hill right now.

What I am and believe many people who have commented on this blog are are people who do not listen to only half of the story or base our decisions or opinions on less than the actual facts.

If Mr. Davis did the full story and not just the gotcha segments, I am sure he would be more credible in the eyes of many viewers.

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