The fields used by hundreds of students each day are in rough shape, getting worse

May 15 proposal would replace roofs, update the auditoriums, install a synthetic field and upgrade grass fields

While the May 15 capital project vote includes upgrading the middle and high school auditoriums as well as replacing the high school roof, $2.2 million of the roughly $14 million proposal will be to upgrade two natural grass athletic fields at the high school and add a multi-sport synthetic turf field at the current Hitchcock Field located inside the track.

The May 15 vote will be held at the same time as the annual budget vote, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the B-wing high school gymnasium.

“We have never put forth a proposal to upgrade our athletic fields and auditoriums, which are used by so many students and community members,” said Superintendent Susan Swartz.

Noting that the state would reimburse 74 percent of the cost of the project, Swartz said the time was right to focus on the fields and auditoriums (which will get, among other things, new curtains and upgraded sound systems).

The fields at Scotia-Glenville get a lot of use – they are used every day, at least during the fall and spring, by after-school athletic teams as well as by physical education students during the school day.

While the fields are generally safe, students are getting hurt on them during practices and athletic contests.

During the 2016-17 school year, out of more than 300 interscholastic athletes, there were 20 reported injuries on the grass fields after school hours.

Synthetic turf offers opportunities

A synthetic (or artificial) turf field offers several opportunities for the school district:

  • The proposed field at the high school will be available for use to all sports – not just football.  That includes boys and girls soccer, field hockey, boys and girls lacrosse and all the other spring teams (like baseball and softball) that can practice on the field instead of in parking lots prior to the start of their season. Athletes on those teams point out that they often play on synthetic turf fields at other schools, including many Foothills Council schools such as Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth, Glens Falls, Gloversville, Johnstown and Schuylerville. In addition, grades 6-12 physical education students will be able to use the turf field as a teaching station.
  • In addition to replacing the Hitchcock Field with synthetic turf, the May 15 proposal includes the regrading, installation of an irrigation system and resurfacing of some natural grass fields.
  • Installation of the multi-sport turf field will allow the grass fields to be worked on and then get a “rest” so that they are not overused and brought back to their current conditions.
  • “Playability” is one of the primary benefits of synthetic turf. Research indicates that synthetic turf provides a greater number of playable hours than natural turf. Studies show that during a three-season year, synthetic fields can be used for 2,000 to 3,000 hours on average. Natural grass fields, however, should only be used between 300 and 800 hours in a three-season year on average. Many sports managers recommend against using natural grass fields for more than 20-24 hours a week.
  • The playability on natural grass fields is greatly affected by the weather; a synthetic turf field can often be used minutes after a rainfall or even be plowed off in the winter for athletes.
  • More than 130 high schools across New York use synthetic field turf. Studies have found it to be safer than natural grass. A five-year study conducted by Dr. Michael C. Meyers, an associate professor in the sport science and physical education department at Idaho State University, found that high school football players suffered fewer short- and long-term injuries on a synthetic turf field. Also, multiple scientific studies, including peer-reviewed academic analyses and federal and state government reports, have all found no link between these fields – which contain crumb rubber – and any internal health issues.
  • Turf fields first introduced in the 1960s contained a concrete under-layer, which would cause injuries in athletes. Present-day fields are made with plastic “grass” over a resilient rubber base and are both softer and safer with respect to concussions and ground impacts. The turf provides a soft, firm and most importantly consistent surface that is ideal for all student-athletes.

Maintaining an synthetic turf field, which comes with a 10-year warranty, is minimal in comparison to a natural grass surface. The primary maintenance item is removing leaves and other debris that may stray onto the field. Removal is accomplished by a tractor-pulled vacuum system that pulls up the fill and runs it through a filter to remove debris that isn’t visible or has become embedded. It is also recommended the material infill is brushed every 4-6 weeks to redistribute infill material that may have migrated.

A natural grass surface requires mowing/removal of grass clippings, fertilization, seeding, topdressing, thatch removal, and watering. There are also labor and material costs involved in the striping and re-striping of the field lines.