Katy ISD synthetic turf fields nearly ready for action
Followed by Citizen Comments
Posted on July 14, 2009 | By Helen Eriksen
If the weather holds up, the installation of artificial turf on six Katy ISD high school campuses should be finalized in August, just in time for football season.
The project was approved by the board in April and kicked into high gear as soon as school let out in June. District officials estimate the work will wrap up around Aug. 10. You can read more about the work here.
The estimated cost is $5.2 million to lay artificial turf on Cinco Ranch, Katy, Mayde Creek, Morton Ranch, Seven Lakes and Taylor high school football competition fields.
People passing by these schools have seen the fields coming together piece by piece as contractors have been working through the various stages of the project.
Katy ISD is growing and that growth has spurred the need for additional high-quality playing fields. District officials say on average, 547 student-athletes per campus play on practice and competition fields at the six high schools.
Bill Moore, the district’s chief financial officer, estimates that there will be more than 58,000 pupils in the district in 2009-10.
The artificial turf can take much higher usage, provide a more consistent surface and even pays for itself over its lifespan because it doesn’t need much maintenance or any soil, seed and water, school officials have said.
I believe many parents and students welcome this transformation but not everyone is aboard this train. Critics, who say they favor natural grass, have cited potential environmental hazards and are skeptical about the long-term costs. They say the fake turf is not inexpensive nor as “low maintenance” as the district contends.
What are your thoughts about this project in respect to water and energy use, maintenance costs and environmental health?
July 15, 2009 at 10:49 am
The amount of use these fields get really leads to quality problems on the grass surface…3-4 football games per week, soccer, youth tournaments, etc take their toll on the grass.
Drove by Taylor this morning and the boys are on the new turf for summer conditioning already.
July 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm
I’m less concerned about my son getting serious injuries on the synthetic turf, but I hope they will clean and disinfect it regularly. If a kid gets an abrasion on synthetic they need to clean it really well. Unlike grass, synthetic traps all kinds of bacteria.
I’m Not Julie says:
July 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm
Do you really think they’re going to let the youth teams on these fields? Do they now? Everytime I’ve gone to watch KYF they are on the outer fields.
Now that they’ve announced the budget shortfall, it seems that we could have used this money somewhere else.
July 16, 2009 at 6:49 am
Glad I’m not in the district so I don’t have to pay for it, but I sure can’t wait to ref soccer on them. So comfortable to run on!
July 16, 2009 at 7:01 am
Watching the daily progress of this project at Taylor High, I have to wonder how all the rolling that was done by heavy machinery for the stabilization that “involves creating a sub-surface for the turf through compaction” results in a surface that “will be softer” than grass.
As far as “reducing labor expenditures” to realize cost savings, they point out that “this will allow us to re-purpose more than 2,000 man-hours annually” meaning these hours will be spent on other maintenance work. That doesn’t sound like savings to me, only a fancy way of saying they are shifting the staff around to other things.
By the way, anyone notice the nice new goal posts and light poles as part of this project?
Ross Raymond has made an excellent point about the cost of the new pressbox. That little project cost more than my house, but doesn’t seem to have the square footage of my garage. Maybe it is case-hardened against future storms and we can use it as a shelter.
It also seems ironic that on these items the district is justifying the expenditures because “Katy ISD is growing”, but in other recent articles they are bemoaning the budget shortfalls due to the growth not being what they have projected. Can they have it both ways?
Finally Done With KISD says:
July 16, 2009 at 11:50 am
The whole thing is ridiculous, and money spent foolishly, when there are temporary buildings at schools, etc. Shows you were the district’s priorities are – sports. Would it kill them to spend money on the expansion of existing buildings for the kids safety? And don’t give me that BS about not having room. If they have room for a trailer, they have room to expand.
July 16, 2009 at 12:50 pm
WHAT A RIP OFF FOR THE TAX PAYERS OF THE KATY AREA. THIS MONEY COULD HAVE BEEN USED FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS. THE LAST TIME I LOOKED AT A REPORT ON KISD THERE WASNT ANY PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE SPECIAL-ED DEPARTMENT AND THE AMOUNT LISTED WAS $0–WHY. WHY NOT JUST BUILD A MINI-DOMED STADIUM AND SOLVE EVERYTHING, IT WOULD PROTECT THE PLAYERS, FANS AND THE FIELD. (ON THE AVERAGE 550 STUDENTS FROM EACH CAMPUS PLAY OR PRACTICE ON THESE FIELDS) IF I FIGURED RIGHT ONLY 14% OF THE STUDENT BODY GETS TO USE THESE FIELDS….AND 2,750 DONT. FOR ALL SIX SCHOOLS THAT WOULD BE 3,300 THAT PLAY SOMETHING AND 22,500 THAT DONT. STILL ONLY %14. NOT VERY GOOD ODDS THERE. AND WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS THAT PAID FOR ALL OF THIS…..DO WE GET TO USE THE FIELDS WHENEVER WE WANT….I THINK THAT ANSWER WOULD BE NO. NOT A VERY GOOD VALUE FOR —–OUR—— MONEY. BTW…DID THE TAXPAYERS GET TO VOTE ON THIS BECAUSE WE ARE PAYING THE BILL OR IS THIS SOMETHING THAT KISD DID IN ONE OF THERE CLOSED DOOR MEETINGS?
Ross Raymond says:
July 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm
For more information and a photo of the press box please go to:
Katy Parent says:
July 16, 2009 at 1:27 pm
The press box at Taylor was destroyed during Hurricane Ike. The school district replaced that to keep it uniform with the other high schools which all have similar press boxes. Anything wrong with that?
July 16, 2009 at 4:37 pm
IT’S ALWAYS GREAT WHEN YOU GET TO SPEND SOMEONE ELSE’S MONEY. KISD IS ONLY INTERESTED IN KISD. THEY DONT CARE ABOUT THE KIDS, PARENTS OR THE TEACHERS. THOSE 16 JOBS AT THE TOP (THAT MAKE ABOUT 2.2MILLION DOLLARS COMBINED) NEED TO RE-THINK THEIR APPROACH TO BEING A SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR. ITS ABOUT THE KIDS, NOT ABOUT YOU.
EVERYONE IN KATY NEEDS TO GO AND ASK FOR ALL OF KISD RECORDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE THRU THE OPEN RECORDS ACT TO FIND OUT WHAT REALLY GOES ON AT KISD. MAYBE THE ADMINISTRATORS AND OTHERS ARE LIKE THE JUDGE, ALDERMEN, AND CITY COUNCIL PEOPLE IN WALLER CO. THEY WERE ALL FOUND TO BE CROOKS AND SENTENCED TO 2 TO 5 YEARS FOR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. YOU KNOW, BRIBES, PAYOFFS AND THE SUCH.
Ross Raymond says:
July 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm
I see nothing wrong with things being the “same” from one school to the next. However I am concerned if we paid the “same” for the other five press boxes.
My math is a little weak, but 6 schools times $185,000 and we are talking serious change. Naturally as we build new high schools they too will have to be the “same” and should we pay that much for them or see if we can get a better deal?
Years ago I bought a car and felt really good about the deal. I drove past the other dealership which sold the same car, but wanted to charge me about $3,000 more for the SAME car. Should I have purchased it there? I don’t think so. Why is it wrong to question the price?
Drive by take a look for yourself, think of your home and tell me if anyone can afford to buy a home if the price per square foot for this is what it cost to buy a house. If so, Katy would be one empty prairie devoid of homes. Since they bricked up the “ground floor” I assume it will be a very nice shed.
Lost Vote says:
July 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm
What a TOTAL waste of taxpayer dollars. Not surprising from KATY ISD. My vote will definitely reflect this disgust when it is school board election time. I will also share my views with friends and family to consider when they vote. I hope others do this same and don’t forget these kinds of actions, especially the parents and teachers of our children when they are told things are not done due to budget constraints……………
July 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm
I’ll be interested in hearing what the football players say after playing on artificial turf in this Texas heat. My kids played soccer on a high grade artificial turf and it was like playing in an oven… miserable hot!
July 17, 2009 at 10:44 pm
So they decide to do this after I graduate from high school?! Oh well.
Ross Raymond says:
July 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm
You raise a very good question. The University of Missouri commissioned a study after they installed the same turf on their fields. This and other studies found the “on surface” temperature of the field was much as 15-38 degrees HIGHER than the temperature experienced by those standing on the adjoining grass surfaces. Their players were subjected to enormous heat load and had to be hydrated accordingly. These fields are heat sinks and there has been a running argument for years about their use in warmer, sunny climates. That report and other information, was sent to each school board member, but not one chose to comment, nor did any member of the administration want to address the questions asked by many KISD parents.
I suspect the reason we have not heard much complaining (there has been some) from players and parents about playing on artificial turf is because the only artificial field we have is Rhodes Stadium and those games are not played in the heat of the day. This will not be true for teams practicing during 7th period and after school. There is a good reason why major sporting organizations (professional and college) do NOT practice on these fields; they have a covered practice facility and practice in the shade.
This will be an interesting fall for our players. I am sure their first reaction will be one of approval when they see the fields, but I wonder how much they will enjoy them when they can’t see the opposing player due to too much sweat in their eyes? More discussion about these surfaces can be found at: http://www.katyvote.com
I’m Not Julie says:
July 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm
Actually, Ross, there are Saturday afternoon games now, so they do play in the heat. I didn’t realize that Rhodes wasn’t real grass, but I’ve never heard any complaints about the heat.
July 20, 2009 at 6:59 am
I’m sure the school board did not respond to, or probably even read, the studies provided to them simply because they had already voted the way Dr. Frailey wanted them to. They also won’t comment because they probably still haven’t figured out who is the spokesman for them.
Maybe some of the proposed cost savings for the artificial turf will be offset by increased Gatorade budgets. Then again, they’ll probably ask the parents to pony-up for that.
Chris Cottrell says:
July 20, 2009 at 8:22 am
“Gary”: You posed the question about how the money for this turf boondoggle became available so I will answer it…..bond money. Money that this community awarded to the district in the last bond election. As the Watchdog$ have been trying to explain for years when you vote to award this district several million dollars you are awarding them a blank check; meaning that the district is free to spend that bond money on any project they want to. Just because they itemize the projects before the election does not mean that they have to spend the allocated money on those projects once the money is granted. There is nothing that compels them legally or otherwise to do so. That’s why your input was not solicited and why there was no vote. The Katy voters gave the district a blank check in November of 2006; it’s as simple as that.
The Watchdog$ support itemized bonds; meaning projects are grouped on the ballot and the voters decide what projects are needed and what projects aren’t needed. It’s not a new concept and it is being done in other school districts. Now the “district can do no wrong” crowd will tell you that itemized bonds are divisive which is complete and utter nonsense.
We also believe that districts should be required to spend funds on the projects that were outlined before the election. This district should not be allowed to spend bond money any way it pleases. Its track record in managing our money is lacking in many aspects. So why shouldn’t the voters have more say? Well the answer to that is simple…it’s because the local area developers, KISD vendors, etc. want to be able to spend YOUR money the way they see fit.
The voters of this district need to say “NO” to every single bond issue from this point forward until all bonds are itemized. The problem is apathy and until more people wake up and realize what is going on nothing is going to change.
Christopher E. Cottrell
Co-Founder/Katy Citizen Watchdog$
Ross Raymond says:
July 20, 2009 at 11:17 am
Dear “I’m not Julie”
We play a few games per year in the afternoon at Rhodes and to say the kids are not “heated up” would be incorrect. My boys were involved with the football program at their high school and it was hot, hot, hot on the field at Rhodes, but they only did it a couple of times. The difference now is that the students will be playing and practicing daily in the heat of the day on these surfaces. I don’t think there is anyone who believes the heat is the same when standing on a sheet of plastic vs. grass is there?
Believe me since we now own these fields I want our students to enjoy them completely, time will tell. I know one thing, there won’t be anyone at the ESC telling us to tear out the artificial turf no matter the results, short of student deaths due to heat conditions directly related to the playing surfaces, these are our’s to own and replace every 5-9 years.
I was amused by one comment I got in May about converting back to grass as one person told me it was not hard to truck in dirt and cover them up again. Little consolation in that bit of news. Like filing in the pool when the water bill gets too high.
Chris is correct about the power of the board to take whatever action it deems necessary when spending bond money. I don’t see how any governing body can be held accountable when it has the power to do that without comment or approval of those paying the bills. Couple that with a 2-4% voter turnout and you have a recipe for more of the same.
July 20, 2009 at 12:49 pm
You say, “voters of this district need to say “NO” to every single bond issue from this point forward until all bonds are itemized”. Your also seem to disagree with the claim that “itemized bonds are divisive”. So, let’s take a look at these items.
If the district itemized the previous 2006 bond, how would you have organized it to not make it divisive. Let’s start by saying you would split it into new construction and maintenance to older buildings. This, more or less, pits the east side of the district against the west side. If I am selfish (and thus divisive), and I live near an old school, I vote down the new school and vote to improve my school. On the other hand, if I am at a school that is bursting at the seams, I vote for the new school, but see no reason to pay for that old school in another part of the district so I vote that down – again, if I am selfish and therefore divisive. If I have a vested interest in my community and all parts of my community, then I would vote for both parts, even though I might only directly benefit from one or maybe even none for that matter. There are those who will just vote down both, because they are just against the bonds no matter what. Now, why is it we should itemize the bond along these lines and how is that it will not be divisive? Why would this type of itemization be better for the community as a whole than the current process?
You could split off technology retrofits into its own itemized bond detail, but then again, for those who are selfish and divisive they will only vote for it if it impacts their school, not realizing that the other divisive (selfish) people in other parts of the community will vote this part down, because there is “nothing in it for them”. Maybe you could put the purchases of buses into a separate line item. If it fails, then the district would have to change its policy and increase the distant you would have to live from the school to take the bus, otherwise you would have to walk – all safety issues aside. Unfortunately, it is “not our father’s neighborhood of yesteryear.”
So, in the end, for those in this community who support ALL parts of the community and not just their own little pocket; having an all encompassing bond that covers new construction, major renovations and ongoing technology improvements and transportation is not a problem, as it is for the betterment of the community as a whole and not just their own little selfish piece.
If you want to put a separate proposal on the board for a new stadium (or other district wide type facilities), I can probably see that. An item of this magnitude does not benefit any one specific area of the district and will be used equally by all schools in the community. This item does not pit east vs. west or north vs. south as it is truly for the whole community and thus if the whole community wants it or not, it is for them to decide as a community.
You also have to be careful what you ask for with respect to holding the districts feet to the fire if you itemize in detail what can and cannot be built. A few years back, a bond was slated to build a junior high, but due to change in growth and demographics, they district built two new elementary schools instead of the junior high. If they wanted to make this type of change, would they have to go back to the voters, which would take at least 3-4 months, and even substantially more time if you insisted that the vote take place in the general election in November. How would you work to handle this issue? When a bond package is put together, it is for a 3 year projection. It is not a project plan, but merely a projection based on anticipated growth and changes in the district. While we would love for these to be 100% accurate, there is no crystal ball that will do it for us. Even in this most recent bond, they moved up the construction of a junior high by one year due to stronger growth.
I have stated here long before, that I hope we would have had a bond election in 2009, as that would have meant the economy was still trucking along and I also stated if we didn’t that would mean the economy would have faltered, which would not have been good for anyone. Well, we now know how that has played out. Will the district propose a bond for 2010? Maybe, maybe not, maybe it will be 2011. Even in these tough economic times the district continues to add students. Cinco Ranch actually posted a sales gain in the first 6 months of 2009 compared with that of 2008 – truly amazing in my opinion. I doubt the same can be said for many other areas of the country. While Texas and specifically West Houston have not been totally immune from the faltering economy, we sure have fared much better than the rest of our great nation.
And just for the record, I actually disagreed with the board’s decision on this particular turf issue. It was not just matter of is this the right project at the right time, but also how this issue was brought before the board and voted on and escalated at such a fast pace. The latter bothers me more than the former.
This district may not be perfect, but by and large, it is a good district. Your constant badgering of the district is destructive and divisive within the community. There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but there is something wrong with a constantly destructive message.
July 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm
ty chris, kisd bond money must be like any other isd bond money. on the ballot there are TRICK questions concerning expenditures. it must take a genius to word these question because all voters get confused when they vote or the questions dont make sense to the average person.
regardless, its still a waste of tax payers money.
like i said, everyone that votes (and everyone surely does not) needs to request all the records through the open records act to see what goes on with kisd. this is the same as legal extortion and the voters dont realize it. and then they wonder why kisd and all other districts claim short falls in money and then spend money on such foolishness. this is no different than what is going on in waller county but this is legal. fyi, i always vote no to bond request. theres always enough money to go around. thanx again.
Ross Raymond says:
July 21, 2009 at 10:23 am
While I understand the points TAM is making, I disagree with his/her conclusion.
I have lived in KISD for more than 30 years and I am unaware of any pocket within our district which would withhold approval for a school serving another area of KISD, or replacing a needed roof, etc. This is to suggest the worst in our nature without once giving the experiment a chance to either succeed or fail. Such thinking sells our community short and is the short cut answer to why we “can’t do this.”
Given the track record of our Board as it relates to funding items never discussed or approved in a bond issue and their unwillingness to allow public comment on multimillion dollar projects, I must say the concept of putting in more restrictions is less repugnant to me than allowing the current trend line to continue unchecked.
TAM’s argument that putting a stadium up for a vote is somehow different escapes the basic premise that the Board can just ask for money and if four of these seven persons feel a “need” for a stadium, they can funnel the cash to it and we can’t do anything about it. Of course such behavior, I am sure, would see a much larger turnout at the next round of board elections, but we would still have and be paying for a new stadium.
If the Board had shown responsibility and a willingness to better communicate with the stakeholders I would feel differently. The last time I looked the Board was trying to figure out who is supposed to be their spokesperson, so I hardly believe we will get a response from them until we send a message via our vote.
Just to be clear, I am not saying the district will not need money in the future as it will, I am saying we need more accountability for how these dollars are spent after approval and should a bond election fail, the district will not shut down, they will do what they did last time, regroup and come back to us. If the “comeback” is like before, then we might reject the request a second time until they get it right. Given this rejection can only come after a vote of the community can anyone tell me what is wrong with that?
I’m Not Julie says:
July 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm
Ross, I was against the turf. Like tam, I didn’t like the way it was rushed through. Reminds me of our current president and his pet projects. My point was just that there are Saturday afternoon games now, as well as other Saturday afternoon events (marching contests, for example), and I hadn’t heard any complaints about the heat. I’m not saying it’s not hotter, just that I hadn’t heard anything.
Katy Taxes says:
July 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm
Are we STILL talking about Turfgate?
I’m Not Julie says:
July 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm
Katy Taxes! I was beginning to think you’d changed your name and were in hiding. We’re talking about your favorite thing – the Katy shortfalls.
July 22, 2009 at 11:15 am
Thanks for proving my point of “they are just against the bonds no matter what” by stating “i always vote no to bond request. theres always enough money to go around”. As I said, there are always those who will vote no, no matter what and gary is one of them. gary – unless you are unlike most every other homeowner in America, you probably had/have a mortgage on your house. I guess it is OK for you to borrow funds to buy/build a capital intensive structure, but not OK for other entities to do it. Interesting perspective.
Your disagreement of my conclusion in effect supports my point of the lack of the need to itemize the bond into different projects as Mr. Cottrell constantly clamors for. I do hope you are correct about the lack of self-serving individuals within our community, but in a community of this size, there is a good possibility that this exists – even in a very small minority.
I do agree that better parameters need to be placed on what unallocated bunds funds can be spent on, but in reality, many of these projects (finance system, transportation center, storage facility, etc. – with the possible exception of the turf) where items that didn’t “make the cut” in the initial items for the last bond proposal, but were on the list of projects needed/desired (take you pick of words there). Given that some projects were sped up and some costs were lower (some were higher), there was/is bond money “leftover”. This money is now being spent on those items that did not make the cut the first time around again, the turf being an exception.
Katy Taxes – Glad you’re back – must have had a good long break to start your summer. I need a break, but it looks like I won’t get mine until after school starts back up.