Montgomery County Public Schools
Artificial Turf Fields Program
Mission & Management
The primary goal of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Artificial Turf Fields Program is to provide safe, high quality stadium fields at all high schools. Artificial turf fields support the core values of MCPS Athletics by providing safe competition and promoting equity and access across the interscholastic athletics program. The installation and replacement of artificial turf fields is coordinated by the MCPS Department of Facilities Management, while the maintenance program for artificial turf fields is coordinated by the central Athletics Unit.
MCPS Artificial Turf Fields
MCPS currently has artificial turf fields at six high schools and one elementary school.
Richard Montgomery High School
Walter Johnson High School
Gaithersburg High School
Paint Branch High School
Thomas S. Wootton High School
Montgomery Blair High School**
Somerset Elementary School
**The artificial turf field at Montgomery Blair High School is owned and operated by the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. A replacement surface was recently installed in March.
Upcoming Artificial Turf Projects
MCPS is preparing to initiate several artificial turf projects in the coming months. Fields at three schools are envisioned through a partnership agreement with Montgomery Soccer, Inc. at Walt Whitman and Albert Einstein high schools and Julius West Middle School. The field project at Walt Whitman was approved by the Board of Education on April 24, 2018. Construction at Whitman will commence following the 2018 spring athletic season. The projects at Albert Einstein and Julius West are still in the bidding process. Once the procurement process is complete, a recommended contract will be forwarded to the Board of Education. Additionally, the surface at Richard Montgomery High School will be replaced during the summer of 2018, while the surface at Walter Johnson is scheduled for replacement during the following fiscal year.
Why Artificial Turf Fields?
Artificial Turf Fields:
- Provide a greater degree of equity between schools
- Provide high quality professional-level playing fields
- Provide additional high quality practice fields, decreasing off-campus field needs
- Allow safe year-round use under most weather conditions
- Require less maintenance
- Offer approximately 10-year life cycle
- Create enhanced opportunities for community groups and school teams
- Support the academic program (create high-quality physical education teaching stations)
- Decrease the number of cancellations and disruptions to schedules
- Are Pesticide free
- Save water
Maintenance & Inspection
MCPS features a systemwide, uniform maintenance plan for all artificial turf fields, which includes a comprehensive maintenance and testing program. The advanced and standard care maintenance programs, along with biannual GMAX testing, are performed by FieldTurf, the vendor that installed all MCPS-owned artificial turf fields. The advanced and standard care maintenance programs include the following services:
- general sweeping and cleaning, including magnet sweeping, to remove foreign objects such as dirt, leaves, bird droppings, gum and other debris that may collect on the field surface
- deep power grooming, sweeping and rejuvenation to de-compact infill in order to maintain appropriate GMAX levels
- providing additional infill as needed in high traffic areas
- conducting an inspection of infill depth and consistency, infill migration, field edging attachments, sewn and glued seams, line verification, and field inlays
- performing a comprehensive grooming, brushing, raking, and sweeping of surface
- conducting GMAX tests biannually.
A summary of the MCPS Maintenance Plan for each high school can be viewed here.
Due to the comprehensive, systemwide maintenance plan that is performed by FieldTurf, there are minimal, if any, additional maintenance responsibilities for local school staff. Local school staff predominantly scout high traffic areas, monitor the infill depth of the field, and identify tears. In certain instances, school staff perform the brushing, raking, and sweeping on the field.
Maintenance Plan Reports and Records
All maintenance plan reports and records for MCPS-owned high school artificial turf fields can be found in the MCPS Artificial Turf Maintenance Log.
The Log features a summary sheet for each school which includes the following information:
- Dates of each scheduled maintenance visit
- Reports from each maintenance visit
- GMAX test results
- Record of any additional maintenance performed on the field**
** As a reminder, due to the systemwide, comprehensive maintenance plan provided by the vendor (FieldTurf) there is minimal, if any, additional maintenance performed by local school staff.
A GMAX test measures the level of shock absorbency for a field. Following nationally recognized industry standards, MCPS complies with a GMAX limit of 200, established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) – ASTM F1936-10 and ASTM F355-16. To ensure compliance with ASTM guidelines, an independent testing agency conducts GMAX test on a biannual basis.
The most recent GMAX test results for MCPS artificial turf fields are available in the MCPS Artificial Turf Maintenance Log.
- New and replacement MCPS artificial turf projects will feature an organic infill material called clinoptilolite zeolite, which comes from rock sourced in Nevada. This is the same organic, natural infill mix in use at the three newly installed (March 2018) artificial turf playing fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County, as well as hundreds of other fields around the country.
- More information regarding clinoptilolite zeolite can be found here, including answers to frequently asked questions.
- Existing MCPS-owned artificial turf fields at five high schools currently feature a crumb rubber infill mix. However, when each artificial turf field is replaced after an anticipated 10-year lifecycle, the crumb rubber infill mix will be replaced with an organic, alternative infill mix - clinoptilolite zeolite.
- The artificial turf field installed at Somerset Elementary School features PureFill©, an organic cork and sand mixture infill mix.
The general MCPS weather guidelines govern the MCPS athletics program and are available in the Health and Safety section of the Athletics webpage.
Additionally, due to artificial surface fields generating greater heat than natural surface fields on warm and hot days, MCPS utilizes the following guidelines to promote safety. The following language is extracted from the MCPS High School Athletics Handbook:
Anytime the outdoor temperature exceeds 80 degrees, coaches exercise caution in conducting activities on artificial turf fields.
When outdoor temperatures exceed 90 degrees, coaches may hold one regular morning or evening practice (before 12 noon or after 5:00 pm).
When the heat index is between 91-104 degrees between the hours of 12:00 noon and 5:00 p.m., school athletic activities are restricted on artificial turf fields to one hour, with water breaks every 20 minutes.
A heat warning sign is also posted at all artificial turf fields to inform community user groups of heat-related conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- For answers to frequently asked questions, please click here.
Montgomery County Public Schools continues to seek long-term partnership opportunities to expand the artificial turf field program in MCPS high school stadiums. For additional information, please contact the Department of Facilities Management at 240-314-1069.
Artificial Turf Field Reservation for Community Use
Please contact Montgomery County Community Use of Public Facilities at 240-777-2725 or visit their homepage at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cupf/ to secure the use of one of the MCPS-owned artificial turf fields.