Why does Calvert County not have turf fields in its public schools? Are turf fields on the horizon? If so, when? Who makes such decisions? Understanding the process is key to answering these questions.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle (SMC) has confirmed that in the past, Calvert County Public Schools has never officially initiated the request for turf fields before the County, essentially benching the County in its ability to help, sidelining County Commissioner Mike Hart, who has been a proponent for turf fields.  

Calvert County Superintendent of Schools (Left) Dr. Andraé Townsel, and Mr. Antoine White with the Calvert County Board of Education attending the State Championship game of Patuxent High School Football this past November. Credit: Sal Icaza / Solomons Island Photography

The CCPS budget derives from The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which provides funding for student safety, educator raises, and student achievement.  It primarily excludes the arts and sports.  This means the funding for turf fields must come from the county level.   

Enter new school superintendent, Dr. Andraé Townsel, and there is optimism for those favoring turf fields. “I do support turf fields,” stated Townsel. The SMC has learned that Dr. Townsel has been working behind the scenes to seek ways to fund turf fields.

This decision to allocate funds for funding turf fields at Calvert County Public High Schools must be initiated by Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) through its budgeting process between January and March.  Turf fields would be part of the Capital Improvement Plan.   If approved, CCPS would then ask the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for approval and assistance in funding.

On Tuesday, January 24th, 2023, at the regular BOCC meeting, funding was not proposed during CCPS’ Department of Finance and Budget review for its Capital Improvement Plan.  However, it was a topic of discussion, leaving the door open for possible future consideration.  

The issue of turf fields in CCPS has gained much traction in the past few months.  There appears to be genuine appreciation, respect, and leadership to engage and dialogue on all sides.  This has not appeared to have always been the case.

Look at St. Mary’s County as an example. In 2021, the St. Mary’s County School Board approved $2.5 million for artificial turf for each public high school, a figure matched and approved by the St. Mary’s County Commissioners.  All three St. Mary’s County high schools now sport new turf fields.

While Calvert County does not yet know whether turf fields will be presented for consideration in the coming months or years, this lays out the process so the community can understand the procedure for enacting such changes.  All other wealthy counties in the State of Maryland have figured it out, and Calvert County will.

This is the first of many articles to come and an ongoing story by The Southern Maryland Chronicle regarding turf fields in Calvert County Public High Schools. Next topic in the segment will include pros and cons of turf fields.

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