Convict Labor, Goats Being Considered by Schools to Keep Fields Cut
29 May, 2019By: Michael Popke
Although the ideas ultimately were discarded, it’s a revealing sign of the times when a school district considers some significantly nontraditional hiring and cost-cutting measures.
The Brevard County (Fla.) School Board briefly toyed with the idea of inmate labor (too much of a security risk), student volunteers (too much of a liability risk), outsourcing jobs (too financially risky) and unmanned mowing machines to cut the 1,976 acres of district-owned grass — including 72 acres of athletic fields. But the most bizarre suggestion involved using grass-eating farm animals.
“Are there any school districts in the country using goats? Can somebody look into that? I don’t think it’s that absurd,” Brevard County School Board Chair Tina Descovich said, according to FloridaToday.com.
“For now, citing scarce workers and a skimpy budget, the school district has decided to do nothing,” according to the news website. “That means parents will keep seeing higher grass around schools and hearing coaches complain about fields and sometimes having P.E. indoors.
Maintaining the district’s grass is the “hardest job in the district,” said Matt Nolle, the district’s grounds services supervisor. “We wind up pushing all our guys hard. They’re a tough bunch. They take it in stride. [But] you can see it, you can see it in their face. At the end of the summer, they’re worn.”
Football fields are damaged, and the district has been issued code violations from the county, FloridaToday.com reports, adding that Nolle says he could use almost twice as many grounds grew staff members as he has currently.