Monday, September 22, 2008

Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon - The Board of Directors met in a work session September 22, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. at Ashland Middle School.  Present were:

 

Mat Marr                     )           Chair

Ruth Alexander          )

Keith Massie               )

Heidi Parker               )           Board Members

Amy Patton                 )

 

Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent

Jill Turner, Business Manager

Media Representative

 

I.          Call to Order

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. by Chair Marr.

 

II.        Roll Check

 

A roll of the board was taken and all members were present.

 

III.       Field Turf Discussion

 

            Curt Bacon represented the Turf Fundraising Committee and gave an overview of the project.  He reminded the Board that the current budget is $850,000 to renovate the existing field, replace it with Field Turf and improve the lighting.  If the Board elected to replace the field with grass, the fundraising committee would not raise money for that project, and the cost is estimated at approximately $400,000 to do so.  There is a lead-free turf option for an estimated additional $500,000.  If the Board should elect that option, the committee would need a financial partnership with the Board because it could not raise that amount of money. 

 

The committee feels there are three areas of concern from the Board:  sports injuries, chemical release and heat.  The Board has been provided information about the sports injuries.  While the number of injuries are relatively the same between playing on grass and playing on turf, the type of injuries is different in both cases.  The chemical release of lead has been studied by both the state and the federal environmental groups.  In both cases, the field turf was found to be within acceptable levels.  With regards to heat, the field turf is a warmer playing surface and in extreme heat needs to be regulated.  In our case, because of the adjacency of the grass field at the track, it would be easy to relocate practice to that field in extreme heat.  The main benefits of using the turf are that we would increase the field use and it would be available to many groups that currently cannot use that area.  The Board needs to contrast the low probability of any health issues against the high probability of more usage. 

 

Karl Kemper reiterated that the difference in injuries on turf is negligible.  The priority user groups initially would be football and soccer ages 5 – 18.  Central Point, Medford, and Grants Pass tuff fields are at maximum use. 

 

Dr. Michael Stone, a local physician, reviewed case studies and research.  His conclusion is that Ashland High School would have a low risk of health issues if the turf was installed.  He looked at injury, infection, risk exposure to VOC, heat stress and heavy metal exposure in his review of the research.  He was particularly impressed by a study conducted by Penn State which focused on toxicity, safety, upkeep and maintenance.  He left a copy of that study for the Board’s review.  He also cited a study that was conducted in Norway.  The difference in that study was that it was an indoor turf field and, even without the benefit of fresh air, they found that exposure to VOC was extremely low and within guidelines.  In terms of exposure to bacteria and infection, the current guidelines the district is using to combat MRSA should be sufficient to negate any impact from the turf.  In terms of lead and heavy metal issues, the idea would be to go with a lead-free product.  However, with proper maintenance, the field turf product poses very low risk.  In terms of latex allergy, there were no incidents cited in the research. 

 

The committee reviewed the questions that the Board posed.  There is a lead-free turf product, but it is more expensive.  Local districts have seen no increase in PE injuries resulting from a turf field.  Jill Turner worked with the local utility company and estimated a savings of $4,500 a year in watering.  Currently no pesticides or herbicides are being used on our football field and the Parks Department does not foresee the use of those products on that field.  A special vacuum and hose is required to maintain the turf and the cost of that equipment is approximately $6,000.  The high temperatures can be mitigated by not using the field on extremely hot days.  Karl Kemper shared information about OSAA’s current system for analyzing heat exposure during the summer months when teams are practicing.  Other studies were presented by Dr. Stone.

 

Public input was received as follows.

 

Thierry and Jeanne Chouard spoke in favor particularly because students with hay fever and allergies would be better served on field turf.

 

Dr. Ed Kerwin, a local allergist, agreed that it would be better for students who had allergic reactions to grass, but expressed concern about additional injuries to joints, knees and ankles.

 

Debbie Fitzpatrick whose son is a soccer player has observed greater abrasions as a result of playing on turf, but her son prefers the turf because it is a better field for soccer.

 

Jeanne Chouard spoke representing the Ashland Soccer Club in support of the field turf.  She wanted the Board to know they are always short of field space.  There are times when the grass fields cannot be used because of too much wear and tear and they have had to cancel games.  They play on turf about 50% of the time when on away games and they have noticed no additional injuries.

 

Greg White from the Ashland Pop Warner Teams spoke in support of the turf.  They notice no additional injuries and the other communities he has spoken to are all very happy with their turf fields.

 

Charlie Hall, PE teacher and football coach, said he can assure the Board they if they had access to that type of a playing service, they would use it quite often during PE and it would be much safer than the conditions that sometimes exist on our grass fields.

 

Scott Ralston recently moved here from California where his district put in one field and was so happy they replaced all of the rest of their fields with turf.  His son is a freshman football player and feels turf is a much better service for them to play on.

 

Amy Amrhein supported the turf field.  She felt all of the concerns are manageable as long as guidelines for maintenance and use are followed. 

 

The Board deliberated on the issue.  Chair Marr suggested that the Board state what their values and interests are in considering the type of field surface the district should be using.

 

Board members commented as follows.

 

Director Parker:  Health and safety.

 

Director Alexander:  What will the field be like in the future.  Cost and the maintenance of the turf.  If pathogens from people are on the turf, how do we clean it up?  

 

Director Patton:  Health and safety both for students and the environment, cost, and community use.  If we install the field turf, we should sign a contract with a professional maintenance group so it could be cleaned appropriately.  She noted that bacteria does not really like to grow on rubber surfaces. 

 

Director Massie:  Safety, ensuring the district has quality facilities and utilization.  He felt  increased utilization would impact student health in a positive way.

 

Chair Marr:  Health and safety.  He noted that additional use is healthy because of more exercise.  He also felt the budget needed to be considered.

 

Chair Marr suggested conducting a straw poll to determine what conditions would need to be there for Board members to support the installation of a field turf surface.

 

Board comments are as follows:

 

Director Parker:  Appreciate the work done by the committee and the Board.  Most concerned about lead and its potential for accumulating in the soil.  She is worried about financial impact.  The district needs help in improving the field because it has not been budgeted for.  She does have concerns about the future and wonders if this is a healthy choice for our kids.  She then read from an email from the Department of Environmental Health and that person said we should insist on a lead-free product.  She would support turf if it had less than 0.5% lead.

 

Director Alexander:  Cares about future contamination.  She is most concerned about the environment.  Concerned about the cost of replacement and how that will be managed in 10 years.  Leaning towards voting yes but would prefer a lead-free product.

 

Director Patton:  Appreciates the work of the committee but still has concerns.  She has spent days looking at the research and it is very complex.  She feels most of the studies qualify their conclusions and do not give unrestricted endorsement of the product safety.    She has found data that materials can be leached into the soil.  She has concerns about leachate from the field getting into ground water or the creek.  Until she has better information, she would prefer upgrading the grass field.  If the district went with a field turf, she would want a non-lead variety.  She does not want it treated with any kind of flame retardant.  She would want the crumb rubber tested both prior to installation and post installation.  She would want to educate staff on heat related illnesses related to field turf and she would want a maintenance plan.

 

Director Massie:  We would have to manage it.  It would be in a lot of use.  He would direct that the contractor search for the best value and the best outcome.  If there are additional bond dollars at the end of our projects, he would support using those dollars to upgrade to a non leaded variety.  His greatest value is greater usage.

 

Chair Marr:   Concerned about the cost to replace the field turf.  Also concerned if the fundraising attempts from the community are not successful, would the Board be required to put in additional money.  He is glad that even if we had 1 turf field we would still have grass and thus options.  He would still like to see us work out a way to share facilities with SOU.  Based on the current evidence he would wait one year before acting.

 

Mat moved that the Board authorize the fundraising for the field turf with the following conditions:  (1) 0.5% lead content to utilize the State of Oregon’s standard, and search for lower possible lead content available; (2) Staff will develop policies and practices for turf maintenance.  Ruth seconded and the motion passed by the following roll call vote:  Alexander – yes; Massie – yes; Marr – yes; Parker – yes; Patton – no.

 

IV.       District Committee Selection Process

 

            The Board determined they would have two board members review the applications for the K-12 Class Size Study Group and the Second Language Task Force.  Directors Patton and Parker will review the Class Size applications.  Directors Alexander and Parker will review the Second Language applications.  These Board members will make recommendations for membership to the remaining Board at the October board meeting. 

 

V.        Capital Projects Oversight During Construction

 

 

The Board concurred that they are receiving sufficient information on the various projects during construction.  However, they made several recommendations for reports.  For Gary DeCock’s report, they would like a shorter verbal report that highlights the positive advancements as well as the critical issues.  Critical issues are defined as what might impact the scop, budget or schedule. 

 

We are trying a different agenda format for the Capital Project Advisory Committee meetings based on the recommendation of Ben Bellinson.

 

VI.       YAAL Oversight

 

The Board reviewed the memo provided by the superintendent.  Director Massie moved that the Board accept the superintendent’s recommendation.  The motion died for lack of a second.   Chair Marr moved that an advisory group be established consisting of two board members, two budget committee members, the business manager/superintendent.  The charge is to examine reports provided by the administrative team and to eventually make recommendations to the budget committee for YAAL expenditures.  Director Alexander seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  Directors Massie and Patton will be the board representatives on that committee. 

 

VII.     Review of Financial Investments

 

            Jill Turner gave an overview of the financial investments and said we suffered no negative impact for the funds that were received in the state-wide pool.  She has reallocated those funds on a temporary 30-day investment to allow time to determine the best investment portfolio for the district at this point.

 

 

VIII.    Approve Superintendent of the Year Letter

 

            The Board reviewed a letter drafted by Director Alexander to submit for the Superintendent of the Year Application.  Chair Marr moved to approve the letter understanding that it needed to be shorted and edited.  Director Massie seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  Director Alexander was assigned to complete the edits.

 

IX.       Adjourn

 

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:38 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by Jeanne Peterson, Administrative Assistant.

 

 

                                                                                                                                   

Chair                                                               Clerk

 

 



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