The school board is considering a contract for two field-maintenance visits in the 2011-12 school year. Each visit would include deep cleaning and fluffing up the matted-down fibers at a cost of about $9,000.

PA school district seeks to extend life of synthetic turf fields

As Governor Mifflin’s synthetic-turf athletic fields approach middle age, the district is looking at ways to give them a boost to extend their lives. The school board is considering a contract with New Jersey-based SportCare for two field-maintenance visits in the 2011-12 school year.
Each visit would include deep cleaning and fluffing up of the matted-down fibers. Two cleanings would cost the district about $9,000 for the year. The district also could go with a one-cleaning option for about $5,700.
The fields, installed in 2006, are guaranteed for eight years, but district officials said they expect them to last 10. Regular maintenance could extend their lifetime to about 12 years, officials said.
“This is our midpoint and we’re looking at this maintenance contract as a way to prolong the life expectancy of these fields beyond 10 years,” Mifflin spokeswoman Keri Morton said. The district has synthetic turf in its stadium as well as a football-size multipurpose field. The fields are used by varsity sports, gym classes and some community groups like the Mifflin Broncos youth football league.
Business Manager Mark R. Naylon said the school board could decide each year whether it wants to have the fields cleaned.
The cleaning contract could come up for discussion at the school board’s Aug. 8 meeting.
Replacing the fields when that becomes necessary would cost about $1 million, he said.
The cleaning process is thorough. First, a rotating brush and vacuum are run over the field. That removes outside material like dirt, leaves and bird droppings, and leaves the field fibers standing upright.
It’s important to keep the fibers standing up because they block the sun from getting to and damaging the synthetic material underneath, Naylon said.
Another machine loosens the small rubber pellets that have been matted down over time. The pellets help maintain the field’s shock absorbency.
Next, a 4-by-4-foot magnet is run over the field to pick up any metal debris. The magnet is able to pick up and hold up to 50 pounds.
Finally, a second set of brushes and vacuums are run over the field to do more cleaning and make sure the surface is level.
The visit also includes repairing damaged seams and replacing the rubber pellets where needed. The company also would give the district a written report about the health of its fields.