LETTER: Turf over classrooms? Stafford must decide
In an era when smart fiscal spending must be top priority, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors and School Board are falling short.
In a 7–0 vote recently, the Board of Supervisors approved an amended proffer condition for Leeland Station that will put $400,000 toward a new artificial-turf football field at Stafford High.
With a potential increase of 79–165 children entering schools from new homes being constructed at Leeland Station, three schools fall within the districting of Leeland Station: Conway Elementary, Drew Middle, and Stafford High. I doubt that these students all will be attending Stafford High, so what about Conway and Drew?
It appears our supervisors feel that a football field is more beneficial than meeting the needs of additional students attending Conway and Drew. My child attends one of these schools: I would like to know why my school and my child are being overlooked so that they can install a football field.
Maybe they will bus the additional kids to Stafford and they can have outside classes on the new field. More disturbing is the School Board candidate, also on the Planning Commission, who voted for turf over classrooms.
The state defines the use of proffer funding as this: State Code Section 15.2–2297 and Section 15.2–2298 specify that voluntary cash proffers (conditions) associated with rezoning action must have a reasonable relation to the rezoning, must support and be included in a Capital Improvement Program, and be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
I spoke with a school employee about proffer requirements and was given this information: “[C]ash proffers must be applied to Capital Improvement expenditures that serve the neighborhoods where the cash proffer originated and is tied to expansion due to increased student capacity.”
The Stafford County Schools FY14–23 CIP notes that in 2015, Drew Middle will need new walk-in freezers costing $50,000 and Conway will need to repair bathroom floors ($150,000). So why are we not taking that money and putting it toward each school as opposed to spending it all at one school for a field that is more luxury that necessity? This same CIP shows that a turf field is schedule at an undetermined school for the year 2021. This shows me that someone at schools finds a turf field more important than building and equipment upkeep. Building and equipment upkeep has not happened at SHS, which now is currently scheduled to be demolished after only 38 years. Justification for this was a lack of maintenance.
I urge Stafford residents to vote in November. Change happens only when you make it happen.