by Max Brantley
Thanks to Clinton vet Ben Mays, a former member of the state Board of Education and a long-time critic of Arkansas school districts that spend execessively on athletics, for this nugget.
You may remember that the state of Arkansas last week took over management of the Mineral Springs School District because of persistent budget problems.
He digs up this item from summer 2011. It's an article from arkansasvarsity.comabout how the tiny school district had splurged on a big-time artificial turf football field.
When a school transitions from a traditional field to an all turf playing surface, the switch is usually a costly and labor intensive one. Rarely does a school make it out of the move for less than $700-800,000.
While that sum isn't an insurmountable obstacle for a big school, it's a fairly shocking one for one of the smallest schools in the state, which is precisely what Mineral Springs (Ark.) High is. Despite those size constraints, the Hornets will play their first quasi-competitive game on their new field turf football stadium on Thursday, when Mineral Springs hosts fellow Arkansas Class 2A squad Poyen.
"Man, I have never been this excited for an upcoming season," Mineral Springs head coach Vince Perrin told GeoSurfaces.com, the web site for the Field Turf company which installed the school's new turf. "We have made incredible strides in this program and this is just icing on the cake. I can't wait to get started."
The fact that Mineral Springs chose to install the new turf while other districts around the country are slashing any and all discretionary funding from prospective school budgets makes the new field all the more surprising.
Mays commented in an e-mail to current state board members:
Just a little nagging reminder of how school districts suddenly run out of money. I guess they'll just have to cut back on all those over-paid teachers now—all but the coaching staff that is.
The district website shows the school has a football coach/athletic director and six assistant football coaches. The team went 10-4 last season, a good bit better showing than the accounting department.