Montgomery County Public Schools 

Artificial Turf Fields Program

 Paint Branch HS Artificial Turf

NEW: Disposal of the Old Artificial Turf Field at Richard Montgomery High School

Read the August 8, 2018 memorandum from Superintendent Jack R. Smith in response to questions from members of the Board of Education concerning process of removal of the old artificial turf field and cleanup of materials

Removal of Artificial Turf Field at Richard Montgomery High School

MCPS is in the process of replacing the artificial turf field at Richard Montgomery High School and will replace it with a new organic infill field in the coming weeks. Read the message from Chief Operating Officer Dr. Andrew Zuckerman.

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 eight high schools and one elementary school.

 Location

Surface Installation

Montgomery Blair High School **     

 March 2017

Albert Einstein High School

August 2018

Gaithersburg High School

August 2012

Walter Johnson High School

April 2010

Richard Montgomery High School

August 2018*

Paint Branch High School

August 2013

Walt Whitman High School

 August 2018

Thomas S. Wootton High School**

 September 2013

Somerset Elementary School

September 2016

 

*The artificial turf field at Richard Montgomery was resurfaced during the summer of 2018.

**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 2017. 

Upcoming Artificial Turf Projects

MCPS is finalizing new artificial turf field projects at Albert Einstein and Walt Whitman high schools, with construction expected to be completed in August 2018. Additionally, the surface at Richard Montgomery High School is being replaced during the summer of 2018. All three fields are expected to open for the fall 2018 athletic season and will feature an organic infill – clinoptilolite zeolite. Additionally, two artificial turf fields are envisioned through a partnership agreement with Montgomery Soccer, Inc. at Julius West Middle School. The surface at Walter Johnson High School is scheduled for replacement during the summer of 2019.

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 at Gaithersburg, Walter Johnson, Paint Branch and Wootton high schools, along with biannual GMAX testing, are performed by FieldTurf.  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. 

Maintenance at the newly installed turf fields at Albert Einstein, Richard Montgomery, and Walt Whitman high schools will be coordinated with the respective installation contractors.

A summary of the MCPS Maintenance Plan for each high school can be viewed here.

Additional Maintenance

Due to the comprehensive, systemwide maintenance plan, there is 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  2018-2019 MCPS Artificial Turf Maintenance Log*Artificial Turf Maintenance Log should be viewed using Google Chrome.

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.

Archived maintenance logs, including GMAX Test information, can be found at the link below:

GMAX Tests

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 2018-2019 MCPS Artificial Turf Maintenance Log. *Artificial Turf Maintenance Log should be viewed using Google Chrome.

Infill Mix

  • 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.  

Heat Guidelines 

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.  

Partnerships

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.