About Cumberland Regional School DistrictThe Cumberland Regional School District, established in 1976, serves the constituent districts of Deerfield Township, Fairfield Township, Greenwich Township, Hopewell Township and Shiloh Borough, Stow Creek Township, and Upper Deerfield Township. Approximately 1,200 students from these municipalities and School Choice districts attend Cumberland Regional High School,
About Cumberland Regional School District
The Cumberland Regional School District, established in 1976, serves the constituent districts of Deerfield Township, Fairfield Township, Greenwich Township, Hopewell Township and Shiloh Borough, Stow Creek Township, and Upper Deerfield Township. Approximately 1,200 students from these municipalities and School Choice districts attend Cumberland Regional High School, a grades 9-12 public school offering academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs to support students' education, wellness, and future readiness. Cumberland Regional High School offers baseball and softball as well as camps and clinics to local youth leagues.
Cumberland Regional High School Field Renovation Project
Cumberland Regional School District received a $56,000 BTF grant to renovate the Cumberland Regional High School Varsity and JV baseball fields to increase field availability and programming for all local programs. Grant funds were used for the renovation of the Varsity field playing surface, including sod, laser grading, infield mix and conditioners, as well as the renovation of the JV field dugouts.
Q&A with Lauren T. Taniguchi, Coordinator of Grants, Communications, and Special Projects for Cumberland Regional School District
Please tell us about yourself.
I have worked with the Cumberland Regional School District as coordinator of grants, communications, and special projects since 2013. I graduated from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia with a bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude with honors in English, and worked in communications and grants management in Philadelphia before returning back home to South Jersey to work in journalism and eventually making my way to my high school alma mater's business office. As an alumna of Cumberland Regional High School (CRHS), and a former Colts student-athlete, it is exciting to hold a position that allows me to bring new opportunities to CRHS through grant funding and to publicize the great experiences Cumberland Regional offers youth in our community. When it comes to the world of baseball, I am a lifelong Phillies fan, although I also cheer on our South Jersey "hometown hero" Michael Trout with the Angels.
Tell us about your organization.
The school district is led by a Board of Education representing the Cumberland Regional constituent districts of Deerfield, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hopewell, Shiloh, Stow Creek, and Upper Deerfield. Our administration, including superintendent, school business administrator, building principal, supervisors, and assistant principals, works closely with a teaching and support staff of approximately 175 employees to provide instruction, extracurricular activities, and wellness support to youth in grades 9-12, as well as special activities on campus for youth in the Cumberland Regional K-8 constituent districts. The field renovation project was led by the coordinator of grants, communications, and special projects in coordination with the district supervisor of maintenance and district maintenance crew, school business administrator, supervisor of athletics, baseball coaching staff, and Board of Education; the renovation work was completed by contracted vendors with supervision by the district supervisor of maintenance.
What steps did your organization take to plan the project? Approximately, how long did the planning process take?
The district began the planning process with the project team discussing the severe flooding on the varsity infield after rain events and no dugouts at the JV field and ways to resolve these issues. The team consulted with the school business administrator to discuss available funding through the district and realized external funding would be needed to complete the projects, due to the limited allocations available at the public school district funded primarily by state aid and tax dollars. After researching funders, the team outlined the project in detail, researched vendors, and began working on compiling information and documents for a grant application. The process of planning the project and putting together the grant application took approximately a year and a half in total, partially due to the district's need to gradually budget dollars eventually applied as matching funds for the BTF grant.
What agencies, organizations or companies provided support to the project? What type of support does each provide?
Companies providing support to the project included Georgia Golf Construction, Inc., which completed the varsity infield renovation. Sean Connell was instrumental in developing an understanding of exactly what work would need to be completed to resolve the flooding issues on the varsity field. Nick's Hardscaping, LLC installed the concrete pads for the JV dugouts. Kenstruction, Inc. completed construction/installation of the JV dugouts. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund also provided support in developing an effective plan; whereas many funders may reject a proposal outright if not in full agreement with proposed plans, BTF was willing to accept minor revisions to our grant proposal based on suggestions from their consultants/experts following review of plans and a site visit. This support and guidance was greatly appreciated as we worked to develop the best plan to reach our end goal of providing high-quality baseball opportunities to youth in our community.
Other than securing funding, what was the biggest challenge during the project?
Timing was somewhat of a challenge during our project, as we initially wanted to apply earlier but took longer than anticipated to develop complete project plans/documents, secure quotes from appropriate contractors, and draft narrative information to accurately explain our program and vision for the future of baseball at Cumberland Regional. Ultimately, we submitted our application for the July-September cycle and were awarded in November, which presented the challenge of completing work including installation of sod during the winter months in New Jersey, which has faced unpredictable weather the past several years. Fortunately, our contractors were able to add us to their schedules quickly, and the winter weather held out until mid-January, when the work had already been completed.
What would you do differently with the project?
Our original application included replacement of the fencing and backstop on the JV field. As we made adjustments to projected expenses for the other components of the project based on BTF feedback, it became evident that in order to provide a match of at least 50 percent, the district would have to scale the grant request down and eliminated the JV fencing/backstop as part of the project. It would have been ideal to be able to include this component in the project by increasing district budget allocations and/or securing sponsorships from the community. However, we are confident that the improvements we were able to complete to the baseball facilities through this project will allow us to reach a greater portion of the community and inspire community partners to support Colts baseball, potentially including financial support for additional improvements.
What advice would you give to others planning a field renovation?
I would recommend others planning a field renovation consult with multiple qualified experts to determine a plan of action and corresponding project budget before attempting to begin any sort of funding application. Although we knew we needed to take drastic action to resolve the flooding issues on our varsity infield, after meeting with consultants, it became extremely evident we needed expert guidance to determine project details such as the type and amount of infield mix to use to achieve specific results and the equipment to be used for regrading. The adage "true wisdom is knowing what you don't know" is quite applicable when planning a project as extensive as a field renovation, which is a major investment that must be executed strategically and should last many years to come. Do not hesitate to call on experts in the field (so to speak) to share their knowledge with you and help you make your vision into a reality