Sheila G. Miller / The Bulletin

The Bend-La Pine School Board on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to parents and community members to raise funds to install artificial turf on the football field at Summit High School.

“We’ve determined that the safety (of a turf field) is OK, we’ve had questions answered about maintenance and longevity,” board Chairman Nathan Hovekamp said. “There will not be a burden of fundraising on our kids … and it appears there will be no delay (in the field construction) at all.”

The motion passed unanimously and allows Drew Bledsoe, former NFL quarterback and current Bend resident, to move forward in leading fundraising for the field, which would be used for lacrosse, soccer and football, as well as physical education classes and community events.

Bledsoe spoke in support of the turf installation at the board meeting.

“I wanted to see if we could make this work, if we could raise the funds to make this happen, and it turned out to be a very good experience,” he said.

“This is not something I view as a one-time fundraiser, to put down a field. I’m viewing it as a blueprint going forward for the district.”

Bledsoe said he wasn’t trying to fundraise just to benefit particular sports programs.

“As my kids come up and go through the schools and go to Summit, I would be very proud to have them participate on and be a part of (using the turf field),” he said. “I know it would add greatly to their academic experience, not just their athletic experience.”

While some board members admitted that they initially had problems with the idea of adding the turf field, board member Tom Wilson said that in the end it was something he felt would benefit the community.

“It’s a great asset for the district,” he said. “It just happens to be situated at Summit High School.”

Rough guidelines

During the meeting the board also created a rough set of guidelines for making private donations to co-curriculars and extracurriculars. Co-curriculars are programs like choir and band that occur both inside and outside the classroom.

“We’re trying to find a way to say yes to projects instead of sitting around finding ways to say no,” Hovekamp said.

The board agreed that it welcomes donations and fundraising from the community.

“We can’t tell people. ‘Don’t give to the school,’” Wilson said.

The rough set of guidelines, which will be finalized by the board at a later date, state that donations to co-curriculars and extracurriculars can go entirely to one school and do not have to be divided among schools like some academic donations.

The proposed guidelines also state that the donation or fundraising cannot put a large burden on parents and students. The draft states that the donations cannot have a potentially negative impact on students, have to benefit a broad swath of the school community and won’t require the district to fund like projects at other schools or pay for maintenance.

Additionally, the board will look to include a statement in the guidelines that any donations affecting facilities must meet the district’s standards for safety and quality.

In other business

During the meeting, John Rexford, the assistant superintendent for operations, noted that the Oregon Department of Education issued a ruling Tuesday that bans the use of motorcoaches, which are similar to the buses used by Greyhound, to transport students for school activities. The state has deemed the buses unsafe for students. Motorcoaches were used by the Bend-La Pine Schools on 170 trips last year.

“This really puts us in a bind,” Rexford said. “We will find a way to transport these kids ... but it’s tough, particularly with the onset of winter sports.”

Finally, the board appointed Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates as the search firm it will use in its superintendent search. The firm is located outside Chicago and has conducted searches for school districts nationwide, including in Las Vegas.