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District Prepares For Artificial Turf Installation

Dec 15, 2023

As part of the Prop S bond issue, the Webster Groves School District is preparing to replace the natural grass at Moss Field at Hixson Middle School and Kopplin Field at Webster Groves High School with artificial turf.

The rationale for doing so was presented by Chief Financial/Operating Officer Pam Frazier and Athletic Director Jerry Collins at a school board meeting on Thursday, May 18.

According to Frazier, artificial turf promotes water conservation, reduces maintenance costs and provides for increased rental income from other organizations.

Collins said artificial turf will increase the amount of time athletes can use the fields. During the spring 2022 season, he said, 24 competition days were affected by rain.

"If it rains a lot one day, there might be three to four days we have to wait until the fields are dry enough to use," he said. "It would also help other sports who don't necessarily use the field because they won't have to make room in the gym for outside sports during those times."

Collins added that artificial turf would directly impact nine sports teams representing roughly 500 students, and also impact the marching band and physical education classes.

During the public comments portion, several speakers urged the board to reconsider installing artificial turf.

Laura Rose noted that plastic fields are associated with an increased risk of lower extremity non-contact injuries and can cause turf burns, as well as release toxic chemicals and create dangerous conditions on particularly hot days.

Courtney Schaefer said turf is harder than grass, leading to an increased risk of concussions.

Though a few school board members also expressed concerns, Collins said the current concussion risk on the school district's fields is comparable to that of artificial turf, and that the turf is tested annually.

"I do feel it's a safe alternative for our students," he said.