Five LAUSD high schools to replace 'melting' turf on fields

Five high schools that had all-weather sports fields installed by the Los Angeles Unified School District in the last five years are replacing the turf because of what a district official says are defective materials, it was reported Tuesday.

Work has begun on replacing fields at Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Fairfax and Sotomayor high schools, prompting those schools' football teams to switch home games to road games or find alternative sites, the Los Angeles Times reported. Diego Rivera High is scheduled to begin field repairs in late September. Washington Prep is delaying replacement of its field until after this season.

In several cases, the tiny pellets used in forming the base of the synthetic surfaces have melted under extreme heat, according to school and district officials quoted by The Times.

"The pellets started melting," Richard Yi, El Camino Real athletic director, said of the Conquistadores' home field, which was installed in 2010. "It gradually spread." Fairfax replaced its grass field with all-weather turf in 2012 and football Coach Shane Cox said melting pellets soon created a "clay-like solution" that resulted in a much harder than normal playing surface, The Times reported.

At Diego Rivera, which opened in 2011, former football coach Jim McElroy told The Times: "Pellets were melting big time. It looked like a bunch of gum all over the place."

Mark Hovatter, chief facilities executive for the LAUSD, told the newspaper that the district would spend between $500,000 and $800,000 to replace the high school fields this year while it seeks reimbursement from its
contractors. The fields were expected to last between eight and 10 years.

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