Update from the Superintendent - March 29, 2024

Part of the proposed Primary School & One Campus Sustainability concept design approved by the Board of Directors on March 18 includes a line item for a synthetic (artificial) turf field that would be installed at Hutchins Field. Since then, there have been questions about why this project was included as part of the campus improvement package. Below are the reasons why a synthetic turf field is not just a want, but a necessity, in maintaining the one-campus model for the long-term:

  1. Currently, Hutchins Field can only be used around 170 hours a year and limited to games for our soccer, football, and lacrosse athletes. Turf can be used almost year-round and made available for practices, community use, and expanded to include field hockey athletes. The district is committed to ensuring that the turf field is PFAS-free, alternative infill (not crumb rubber), and recyclable.
  2. Providing a consistent and accessible playing surface for our athletes, visiting teams, and the community. Despite the best efforts and hard work of our facilities and grounds staff who spend countless hours maintaining Hutchins Field, grass fields have long been a challenge in Maine due to winter weather, athletic wear-and-tear, and sheer demand for field usage.
  3. Our student athletes invest so much time into their seasons, their sport, and the community. In comparison with the schools that we compete with, our student athletes are at a significant competitive disadvantage as most schools now have turf fields. Additionally, Greely does not have a home advantage because practices cannot be held on Hutchins Field due to the fragility of field conditions. In some sports (such as field hockey), our student athletes are not even considered by colleges if they do not play on turf.
  4. There is no place on campus to practice for the first several weeks of the spring season. Programs must rent indoor turf off site in Portland. On average, 30% of regular season practices have occurred off campus either at an indoor facility or at a rented turf at a neighboring school. This places a burden on families financially and in the time transporting players to and from off-site practices. Additionally, many of our student athletes are young drivers who are transporting themselves, often late into the evening when off-site facilities are available, creating safety concerns.
  5. Installing a turf field will provide more space for outdoor physical education classes during the school day, while freeing up more opportunities for the community to use fields at Twin Brook, which are often in demand during school athletic seasons.

Greater Portland Schools with Turf: Lewiston, Thornton, Portland, Windham ,Deering, Scarborough, Kennebunk, Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, Freeport, Waynflete, NYA, York (in process).

Greater Portland Schools without Turf: Greely, Cheverus, Westbrook, Gray/New Gloucester, So. Portland.

Hopefully, this helps relay the importance of a turf field in the overall planning for one-campus sustainability. Co-curricular programs such as athletics are education-based and an integral part of our students' education, requiring a level of investment that matches other program offerings.