A Statement from Montgomery County Schools Regarding the Recycling of Artificial Turf Field Material at Richard Montgomery High School

Delivered by Chief Operating Officer Dr. Andrew Zuckerman on July 30, 2018 during the Board of Education Meeting for Business

Watch the video of the statement

We know that the Board received additional questions over the weekend regarding disposal of the artificial turf field material from Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS). First, let me assure you that the statements that we have issued on our website and in previous responses to elected officials are completely accurate.

Consistent with the clear policy direction of the Board of Education and consistent with the MCPS value of environmental stewardship, our contract for replacement of the RMHS field included a requirement that the existing field be recycled to the maximum extent possible. In this case, the entire field system, which includes the carpet and infill material, is being reused by a recreational facility in the White Marsh area and others outside of Maryland. Reuse is a core element of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” approach to waste management. Product reuse is permissible under state and local regulations; prevents materials from being disposed of in the waste stream; and precludes the need for additional new materials to be generated.

In the RMHS field replacement project, as in any major construction project, debris was generated by the demolition. This debris represents a very small fraction of the full stadium field. As I stated on our website, “remaining debris left over from the removal of the turf field” was cleared. Management of construction debris is a specialized industry, and these materials are routinely transported to transfer stations, often in other areas of the country, for safe sorting and handling. Transfer stations identify materials that can be recycled and appropriately process remaining materials; they do not accept materials which they are not licensed to process. We will continue to hold our contractors to high standards and work to ensure compliance with all environmental and safety regulations. We will provide a full written explanation of this process as requested in a memorandum to Dr. Smith by Ms. Ortman-Fouse, who asked a series of important questions about the turf removal process that will help illuminate this issue.

The Board of Education is an excellent steward of both taxpayer resources and of the environment in the service of educating the children and youth of Montgomery County. The Superintendent and those of us in his administration are committed to implementing the Board’s vision. It is unfortunate that there is a small group of individuals attempting to mislead and misinform our community about this issue. This behavior distracts from our core mission of teaching and learning. I am particularly troubled by the fact that in this case we are fielding questions about a paintball facility’s reuse of artificial turf in White Marsh, Maryland when here in Montgomery County locally we are focused on creating opportunities for all students to learn and achieve at high levels. We welcome serious debate on instructional and operational issues; at the same time we know that accountability only truly results when all stakeholders hold to high standards of accuracy, reliability, and constructive communication.