MCPS Pulls Churchill Turf Field Funding Request from Council Agenda
UPDATED, July 29 at 2 p.m.- The Montgomery County Council pulled from its agenda Tuesday a consent item that would have OK’d using $1.3 million in private funds to build a turf field at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac.
The item was removed from the Tuesday agenda at the request of Montgomery County Public Schools officials, according to Montgomery County spokesman Neil Greenberger.
The supplemental funding request made by Montgomery County Public School officials was approved by the council’s Education Committee on Monday and expected to sail through the county council on Tuesday. According to the school system request, the Potomac field is set to be funded by the Winston Churchill High School Booster Cub with a commitment to the county to raise and contribute $250,000 for the project. Bethesda Lacrosse/Potomac Soccer Association has pledged to contribute the remaining amount of just over $1 million. According to MCPS Director of Facilities James Song, in exchange for the upfront funds to build the field, the partnership will get 1,000 hours of playing time on the turf field, a premium for sports teams who compete for limited fields in the county. Song said after the school athletic teams are awarded time, about 200 hours of field use will be available for the public.
The funding request however is entangled in a lawsuit pitting the county’s largest recreational soccer organization against the school system in a bid to partner for that school site as well as the turf fields at Richard Montgomery and Gaithersburg high schools. Montgomery Soccer Inc. contends in a lawsuit and in an appeal to the State Board of Education, that the MCPS procurement process was flawed and did not take into account the large demographic diversity of players the organization serves in the evaluation of its bid for the partnership. He said the MSI bid for the Churchill field was also $25,000 higher than the accepted bid.
When asked to explain why MCPS asked the item be tabled, school system Spokesman Dana Tofig, wrote in an email to MyMCMedia: “Our lawyers thought it would be best to hold off on action on the Churchill field at this time because of the pending litigation. The item was pulled from last night’s Board agenda, as well.”
MSI Executive Director Doug Schuessler told MyMCMedia Tuesday, “I am encouraged at a bare minimum that it provides a window of time for more discussion to occur. From a selfish perspective I would hope it was because someone realized wow this is not serving public interest.”