Priorities must be reexamined when trying to help students

In the last few years, thousands of dollars have been committed to improving the conditions of the Ames High football stadium. Upgrades have included a new press box, additional seating, a new scoreboard, goal posts, lighting, a new sound system, track, 25-second play clocks, and landscaping. Now it has come time to replace the field. The Ames High School Athletic Department is currently raising funds to finance a $600,000 project to replace the playing surface in the football stadium. 8 of the 18 schools in our conference have or will have turf fields within the next three years. The new surface will be a state-of-the-art turf field, comparable to the field quality enjoyed by professional athletes. The efforts of this project seem to be a waste. Ames High School does not need a new football field. The WEB staff believes the best way to help Ames High students is putting money where it belongs—in the classroom. Assuming textbooks cost $60 apiece, money needed for the new football field could pay for 10,000 new textbooks. With a student population of approximately 1,500 students, the money would be enough to equip every course at Ames High with a new set of textbooks. Instead, some students will continue to use texts from the Reagan era for the sake of a new football field. Blame for this problem cannot be placed easily. Perhaps a lack of leadership is the problem. The athletic department actively fundraises for projects and is backed by an extensive booster club, but no such support can be found in the academic arena. With organization and leadership, maybe the lack of money for academic purposes could be corrected. Athletic Director Judge Johnston said over $300,000 had been raised for the project thus far. The WEB commends the athletic department for the effort they have put forth to improve their department as best they can. As Johnston said, “If I sit around and don’t have a vision, I wouldn’t be a happy athletic director.” The WEB is fully aware that the athletic department is not to blame. According to Johnston, planning for the project began just last October when the department received a $50,000 donation. The donor wanted the money to benefit many students, so it was decided to purchase a more durable football field. If the donor really wanted to benefit the largest number of students, the money would have a much wider impact if it were spent updating classroom materials. It may be more exciting to fund the construction or upgrade of a facility, but donors looking to help Ames High need to understand that such projects will not help students simply because it is publicly visible. The WEB encourages donors willing to give the school financial support to consider funding projects that have more than a cosmetic impact. We believe students would benefit more from donations to classroom materials, whether it is textbooks, art equipment, or technology. It may sound ungrateful to criticize individuals who voluntarily give their own money to benefit our school, but the generous dollars donated toward a new football field could benefit all students at Ames High if the dollars were directed where they are most needed. That is, in the classroom. -Editorial composed by Samuel Bird on behalf of The WEB’s editorial board.