Middle school students in El Dorado should plan on some changes to their physical education curriculum next year.
The Greater Wichita YMCA will finance the construction of an artificial turf field as a part of the new El Dorado middle school’s outdoor athletic complex.
The El Dorado Board of Education unanimously approved the partnership between the district and the YMCA at a meeting on Monday, district officials announced Tuesday.
Sue Givens said middle school physical education classes have consisted of running on the sidewalks around the current school building, which was built in the 1930s on three acres of land. The new school will have two gymnasiums, a wrestling arena and, now that the YMCA partnership has been approved, an artificial turf field and four-lane running track.
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El Dorado Public Schools Superintendent Givens said the district couldn’t finance a $630,000 project like this by itself. The YMCA will pay for the construction of the field, signs and seating, while the school district will cover the construction costs for the track, fencing and water system. Both the new middle school and the turf field are scheduled for completion in January 2014.
Although artificial turf is more expensive than traditional grass, Givens said it is more cost effective because the field lines do not need to be repainted as frequently, and artificial turf does not require irrigation. She said artificial turf can also minimize injuries that often result from playing on an uneven surface, such as ankle sprains. The softer, more forgiving surface also cushions the impact when an athlete falls, Givens said.
Forrest Rhodes, of the El Dorado YMCA Advisory Board, said the field will make outdoor recreation accessible to thousands of children in the community. He said when the field is completed, the YMCA plans to offer flag football and soccer to boys and girls from age 3 to seventh grade.
Rhodes said the YMCA’s income-based pricing means some kids will be able to play for as little as $5 a season.
“This is one example of El Dorado doing what it does very well: working together,” Givens said of the partnership.