Akron Public Schools plans to tack on additional renovations to the athletic field at Ellet Community Learning Center following a donation of artificial turf by the Cleveland Browns.
The district will spend about $215,000 on expanding the amount of turf that will cover the field inside the track at Ellet.
The Browns announced last week they would donate a turf football field. But additional areas inside the track would not be updated, and the district elected to do those updates now while construction on the main portion of the field is already underway.
"We are so appreciative of their offer," Debra Foulk, the district's executive director of business affairs, said of the Browns' donation.
The work the Browns are doing will include a drainage project, she said, and if the rest of the field is done at the same time, they can piggyback off that work.
"It’s us looking at the whole picture of how that stadium operates," Foulk said.
The areas, known as "D-Zones," are just outside the football end zones but still inside the track, which is not being resurfaced as part of the renovations. Those spaces are used by the track and field teams, Foulk said, and can be used by the cheerleading teams and marching band. One will be updated with turf and the other with asphalt.
Treasurer Ryan Pendleton said upgrading athletic facilities is part of the district's long-term master plan, and this was a chance to do that for cheaper than it would normally cost.
"We would never be able to do it on our own," he said.
The money, Pendleton said, is coming from dollars designated for permanent improvements to facilities and is not money that would otherwise be spent in the classroom.
However, Pendleton stressed to the school board on Tuesday the need for a designated revenue stream specifically for capital needs in the district like roofing and HVAC replacement. Most of the money the district has for such improvements is tied up paying off the debt for the 34 new community learning centers.
The Browns and APS held a groundbreaking ceremony last week at Ellet High, which will soon close with the opening of Ellet Community Learning Center on the same campus this fall.
Defensive end Myles Garrett was on hand to help turn the first dirt.
Several football teams in Akron use the Ellet field, which currently has elevation issues and bald spots in the grass from excessive use.
Contact Jennifer Pignolet at email@example.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.