Artificial turf issues discussed at Fallbrook Union High School District meeting

The Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) board of trustees discussed the costs of maintaining school facilities, including the artificial turf field, at its June 10 meeting. The board is currently considering increasing the facilities fees for the entire district, as existing use fees are the lowest in the North County area, it was stated.

It was also noted that only CIF-related sports are permitted to use stadiums with artificial turf on game days in other school districts. According to the FUHSD board meeting agenda, physical education or team practices are not permitted on the field; outside organizations are only allowed to rent the fields on a limited basis with a much larger rental fee.

The recommended use for the stadium field as it was presented to the board was that only CIF-related programs would use the field. On the agenda, it stated that physical education programs should be allowed to use the stadium and field. The majority of time, however, PE programs use the rubberized track, not the artificial turf.

According to assistant superintendent Will Hatcher, there was a comparison of fees done with surrounding school districts regarding the use of their facilities, and it was apparent that their costs were set to insure that the fields were not used except on game days.

“We have a $25 an hour stadium fee that is typically not paid,” he said. “Users will not pay because they have no money, or they use the field like a park, and enter while someone else is using the field. One thing we know for certain is that there is a significant overuse of the artificial turf to the point where the use actually comes into play of creating a dangerous facility.”

If the district allows overuse of the turf to wear it completely out without the replacement of the carpet, the field would be condemned, said Hatcher.

“Not even students would be able to use the field. We would have to put a chain link around the field and lock it up,” he said. “While that is the most extreme situation we can encounter, it’s going to happen if we are not wise and prudent with the facility.”

According to a proposed schedule, on June 10, the stadium field without lights fee would increase from $15 an hour to $90 an hour. The stadium with lights would increase from $25 an hour to $210 an hour.

In addition, stadium turf field use fees will be deposited into a special reserve account to be used only for field maintenance, repair and replacement. However, the stadium fees are not set to provide for full cost recovery – only offset a small portion of the cost to operate and maintain the field.

Hatcher stated that a prepayment plan is being put into place so that the district will not have to absorb the unpaid bills from businesses that did not pay their bills to the district.

“We’d rather get paid rather than trust on just relying on honesty, expecting to be paid when we send bills,” he said. “We had no restrictions in place, and now we are facing a lot of issues that are costly.”

FUHSD-sponsored programs will not be charged, but non-CIF programs, such as the boys’ and girls’ rugby teams, would be significantly impacted by the fee increase. Supporters of the groups were at the meeting to voice their concerns.

Mike Majewski, who helped found the rugby program, began the appeal to the board.

“Since starting seven years ago, we’ve come a long way to get [the rugby program] to this point,” he said. “We have always used CIF guidelines to legitimize our sport and as a way to measure success. Our kids know that the community embraces them, and the rugby teams have set standards that other teams are trying to beat. We have two championships nationally, and the girls are the top public school team in the country. We work hard as coaches and have so much pride. The new fee increase will bankrupt us.”

Parents, assistant coaches, and players clapped and jangled their winning medals together to show support as various members of the community approached the podium to explain how the rugby program enforced dedication, preparation, and pride into the teams.

“Changing how we use the facilities would have a serious detrimental impact on a quarter million in scholarships,” said one assistant coach.

Girls’ rugby coach Marin Pinnell stated that her team was especially impacted because her team also included middle school aged children.

“I’m a teacher here [at Fallbrook High] and my contract has been reduced because of declining enrollment,” she said. “A lot of my players are in junior high, and want to go to Fallbrook High instead of Great Oak because of my program. That means something. They want to be a Warrior.”

After hearing the parents and coaches plea their case, Koehler asked Hatcher if there could be another category for fees, depending on the severity of use by the sport.

Hatcher explained that there had been a three-tiered structure before, but the middle tier had been eliminated so that club activities could take advantage of the lower rate.

“In hindsight, that was not smart, but we were not getting paid at the higher rate, so we wanted to try to get paid at the lower rate,” he said.

Board member Cliff Sumrall stated that sport clubs, like rugby, might be the way to get student attendant numbers to increase in the district again.

“These students can’t go to Bonsall to play, and we have been wondering how to increase enrollment,” he said. “If we can’t sell our product, maybe this is the beginning of us doing something about it. These groups are out of sync with us right now, but where do you go to find a national champion group who doesn’t have a place to play? We can take the national champion team and put them on the field and have them recruit students, taking care of our issues.”

Superintendent Dale Mitchell felt that there was more to the turf than just usage problems.

“While we share in the joy of the successes of the rugby program, fundamentally, our issue about the longevity of the turf has not been answered,” said Mitchell. “The board has requested initial information, and we hope to acquire that, but we also believe that Hatcher and I have a responsibility to bring before the board and community the fact that the stadium turf has a limited lifespan. If we do not have a plan for how that turf is going to be replaced, it is going to be condemned.”

Mitchell stated that the [old] press box was condemned at the football field.

“While we had a well-intentioned community, and the press box was a nice and good idea, it became very obvious through the past few years that turning a good idea into action is very difficult,” he said.

Koehler stated that she realized that the field is not a park, but hoped that an in-between could be found for programs like the rugby teams.

“I understand we aren’t running a public park here, so we want to charge the proper fees,” she said. “But rugby is important, and I want to have consideration, more time and thought to find a solution that we haven’t come up with yet, and see what we can do to accommodate them. They are impacting a lot of kids’ lives.”

However, not all board members felt the same.

“Sports are important, but we are here to educate and provide a safe environment for the students,” said Mike Schulte, trustee. “Right now, we don’t have a plan in place. We have to think of one. We don’t have to go out recruiting students; we have to provide an education for the ones we have. We should be concerned about the kids in our community.”

The fee schedule will be placed on the June 24 board of trustees meeting for final approval.

16 Responses to "Artificial turf issues discussed at Fallbrook Union High School District meeting"

  1. shafted?   June 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    nice to see the fee increase is reasonable…

    "According to a proposed schedule, on June 10, the stadium field without lights fee would increase from $15 an hour to $90 an hour. The stadium with lights would increase from $25 an hour to $210 an hour."

    This will really get your maintenance issues turned around now, wont it?

  2. FallbrookFan   June 21, 2013 at 7:07 am

    The football team, lacrosse team, field hockey team and soccer teams all practice on the field. So "According to the FUHSD board meeting agenda, physical education or team practices are not permitted on the field; outside organizations are only allowed to rent the fields on a limited basis with a much larger rental fee." is not a factual statement. I’ve seen all of those sports practice on the field.

  3. Joni   June 21, 2013 at 9:05 am

    My hope is that Fallbrook Union high School and the community realizes that what Fallbrook Rugby is asking is that the Rugby Players from FALLBROOK HIGH SCHOOL that identify them selves as WARRIORS be allowed to use their school fields. Just because CIF has not sanctioned Rugby as a CIF sport because of all the budget cuts, it is a real sport to be brought back into the Olympics in 2016. Just like all the other Fallbrook sports Rugby teaches the students at Fallbrook High school, pride, discipline, integrity, and inspires them to be better students and community members. This is all apart of their overall education! There is truly no price tag we can put on the opportunities Rugby has provided the boys and girls involved inRugby at Fallbrook from the pride of National Champions to players given the opportunity to not only represent Fallbrook, but travel internationally to also represent the USA. The change in fee schedule would make it cost prohibitive for our Rugby players to use the field, yes they currently are charged even though they are High School Students. My hope is the board will find a way to charge teams that are not affiliated with the high school the high fees, but allow our FALLBROOK RUGBY players to use the fields and have WARRIOR PRIDE! PLEASE SUPPORT THIS!

  4. Marcus   June 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

    "….. and provide a safe environment for the students"

    This increase will effectively prevent our older players from having a safe environment to play home games at. Our younger players at the entry and intermediate levels of youth Rugby in Fallbrook already lost the use of the HS field for their games and as it is our entry level players practice under one flood light in the winter at Potter. Hardly an optimum set-up for teaching kids who, for the most part, are first year players trying to learn a full contact game they haven’t even seen before. The pace of the game at the older levels is simply too fast to use uneven fields like Potter. Our nationally recognized teams will probably have to go to another town to have a "home" game or simply forgo having home games at all. Grants are out there… but the legwork has to be done.

  5. FUHSD resident and voter   June 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I think the high school district should cut all extracurricular, non-academic activities. The country needs scientists, mathematicians etc. We don’t need any more professional athletes. Let them go throw a ball around all they want (hey exercise is great for young people!) but it shouldn’t be the proper function of the public schools to provide this.

  6. Lisa Ratnavira   June 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Our daughter Natalie Ratnavira received a $100,000 scholarship in soccer at University of Nevada Reno and fought hard for the improvements of this turf field explaining many athletes with scholarships were in jeopardy of injury on the old field. She did not acquire her scholarship from CIF but from being seen on club games with Pegasus. She also understood not all students are scholarly. She realized attendance and gpa’s go up when a student is actively involved in a sport. Attendance is usually up by 6-7% and gpa is usually up at least .5 to 1.0 higher when a coach is checking grades. Fallbrook has a sports program and there are options like the Fallbrook Booster clubs etc for raising funds for team maintenance, t-shirts, selling named seats, etc. There are grants for community and at home involvement to raise money. We have literally two parks in this town, removing this from the town is another push for the citizens to lean towards becoming a city. Our youngest son Brooks had the joy of playing for Coach Mike Majewski for two seasons. Coach Mike is professional, caring, diligent, dependable, and I know we can count on him to help our community find a win win about this dilemma. Please do not remove non CIF sports from the turf field.

  7. Wing Nut   June 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I certainly hope our FUHSD board is comprised of more sane and rational thinkers than one particular FUHSD resident and voter. I’m sure an equitable compromise is well within reach for all parties involved.

  8. Concerned   June 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

    A penny wise, a pound foolish… Look at the big picture: we’d lose student athletes to other schools, thus losing money for the district; potential hike in mischief when kids have no outlet, this costing even more money for the district. A solution would be for the district to absorb the cost of field maintenance. Think of it as part of "It costs money to make money."

  9. HB(FUHS alum)   June 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    This is hilarious that they are talking about the toll on the field and they are here to educate and provide a safe environment. This is a ploy to raise funds due to the school being incapable of retaining students and and they are loosing money. I was a collegiate football player in the mid west at a school that had 1 field with artificial turf that is the same as the one at FUHS. Every single sport at my school utilized the field year round and hrs and hrs a day and also severe weather extremes. How much wear and tear? None! The stuff is made to hold up and be extremely resilient and durable. Enrollment in the school is dropping because the sports programs are a joke and the education is laughable. Gee…I wonder why people are leaving? I would love to see some data as to the test scores, GPA’s and other metrics to see what they were when the sports programs were successful. Fallbrook is a unique town and we need to stop comparing what other districts are doing, charging, etc… and think about what its going to take to restore some pride in this school doing it the fallbrook way! Keep trying to be other schools, keep up the non creativeness, keep being blind to what is going on at that school, keep being passive, keep passing the buck, keep making excuses and keep watching that school crumble and become irrelevant. Keep up the good work school board you guys are definitely doing your job!!

  10. Kim   June 23, 2013 at 11:35 am

    To FUHSD Resident and Voter,
    If it was not for Football my Son Zach would not have gotten a scholarship to The University of Nevada. It not only took his hard work on the field but he also had to get goods grades and high SAT scores. And with that Scholarship they will end up paying two years of Graduate School.
    Athletics is a very big things for our Children it keeps them out of trouble and on track to stay focused. Sports also helps our Children learn not to quit. So I think you should re think your point of view

  11. Rugby Parent   June 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    The point of this entire argument is that non CIF sports (not just Rugby) should NOT be punished now for the inadequate planning that occurred when the field was installed. If this were a new field and the district was trying to "protect" it from overuse, then this whole ordeal might be warranted. It is certainly not a new field (I have a hundred pounds of rubber turf balls in my car and house to prove it!) and when you look at actual field usage, non CIF sports have very few hours on that turf compared to Football or Lacrosse, yet we are being asked to bear the brunt of the replacement costs by paying exorbitant rental fees?

    The fact is that the field needs repair – if not right now then it will need it in the next year or two. Shouldn’t we not only be fighting the fee schedule but also offer up possible solutions to the deteriorating fields. You can’t tell me there isn’t a buddy of a buddy out there that can help repair the fields at a discounted cost.

  12. fallbrook highschool student   June 24, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Fuhsd resident you sir or mam are dumb this country needs more scientists really yeah we want more people to go crazy playing sports gets the anger frustration ans stress of a teenager out and you want more fat americans sitting on a couch yea cancel all the extra curricular things so the students get fat I think you should think back at your life and remember the fun you had with sports and the friends you made or you will see people angry all the time so be quiet

  13. Chris Fore   June 24, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    What brand of synthetic turf is the field there? Curious to know.

  14. Kim   June 25, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Also why punish a sport that wins. Fallbrook should be very Proud of Rugby and do everything they can to help this sport. It’s one of the only sports we can say is a winner.

  15. @13   June 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

    1-800-EASY TURF…! LaDainian Tomlinson even came and hung out while it was being installed.

  16. Chris Fore   June 26, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I wonder what brand of turf they got, looks like Easy Turf just partnered with Field Turf in 2010. Hopefully the quality of turf is great and they can get this fixed soon. I’ve been on staffs at two schools that put fields in. One went great, one not so great. The not so great one, the school wanted to save money on the foundation, never a good idea!


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