School Board hires firm whose analysis of athletic fields will help foundation prioritize needs, cost
The Port Washington-Saukville School Board last week commissioned a study of outdoor high school athletic facilities that is intended to be a blueprint for fundraising spearheaded by a recently formed foundation.
The district will hire Point of Beginning, a surveying, landscape architecture and engineering firm from Stevens Point, to analyze Port Washington High School’s football, baseball and track and field facilities and recommend improvements.
The site analysis will cost $2,000, officials said.
“The cost is not over the top because they see it as laying the groundwork for doing the work in the future,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.
Improvements being considered include an artificial turf football field and possibly baseball fields, new bleachers and other football field-related improvements and an eight-lane running track.
Artificial turf, which is used by several schools in Port High’s athletic conference, seems to be central to the district’s improvement plan because the durable surface could be more heavily used for a variety of activities while reducing maintenance costs. For instance, the current grass football field, which is used almost exclusively for games, could also serve as a soccer field and be used for gym classes if an artificial surface is installed.
“Ideally, if you could do full turf on all the fields you could have soccer practice as early as you want in spring and accommodate gym classes and football,” Froemming said.
Because the school’s athletic facilities are in a relatively compact space just west of the school, the district decided it needed the expertise of a professional firm to redesign the outdoor athletic area.
“It’s going to take someone with some creativity to work with a piece of property like this and expand the outdoor athletic opportunities for our students,” Supt. Michael Weber said.
The recommended improvements will come at a significant cost, and having passed a $49.4 million referendum last year to make building improvements at the high school and Dunwiddie Elementary School, the district is not in a position to pay for them. That’s where the PWSSD Foundation Inc. comes in.
The group is in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization and, while independent of the district, it is working closely with school officials to raise money for improvements in the district.
The hope is the foundation, which with its nonprofit status can offer tax incentives to prospective donors, will be able to leverage large corporate contributions in addition to smaller gifts from individuals and groups.
Of possible help in the foundation’s mission is a recently approved policy that allows the School Board to grant naming rights in exchange for large donations.
The first step, however, is the outdoor facilities study, which in addition to guiding the district will give the foundation a plan to show potential donors.
“The foundation asked for a commitment from the district to come up with a plan,” Weber said. “They have to have a target to shoot for.”