Somerset Elementary Wants to Raise Funds for Artificial Turf

Somerset Elementary School is taking its poor field issues into its own hands hoping to raise more than a half million dollars to install an artificial turf at the school in Chevy Chase.



The Montgomery County Board of Education is expected to vote today on whether to allow the group called the Somerset Elementary School Education Foundation Inc. to raise the money to pay for the artificial turf. The Foundation’s mission is to fund capital and technological improvements to the school building and grounds, promote academic achievement, and extend the school’s relationship to the wider community.

“It would be great for thekids. There would be less dust and dirt. And it would be great for the [Bethesda-Chevy Chase] High school and different elementary schools,” said Somerset Principal Kelly Morris.

According to a memo from Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers, the field is in bad shape due to a “lack of playing fields in this part of the county and the constant use of the field by the school and the community.”

The turf has an estimated cost of $550,000. The school’s PTA and Foundation have said it would take them about two years to raise that money, according to the memo.

It is unclear however, who would pay to maintain the artificial field.

The Somerset school has a student population of 575.


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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


2 Responses to “Somerset Elementary Wants to Raise Funds for Artificial Turf”

  1. On May 29, 2015 at 1:07 pm responded with... #

    Please reconsider. see and The Montgomery County Council has banned the use of toxin laden waster tire crumb infill and required plant based infill on county fields. But the BOE has not acted and MCPS is not bound by this important council action. The plastic itself heats up to 125-170 deg F. on warm sunny days when grass is as cool or cooler than the air temp. The growing concern about links to cancer clusters among young adults who were frequent child users of artificial turf fields, especially those like soccer goalies who spend the most time on or close to the surface of the waster tire crumb infilled plastic fields should raise concern for all. For less than half the stated cost a cool, healthy, durable well draining state of the art natural grass field can be installed with plenty left over for many years of maintenance. Whereas there will be no money for the important health and durability related maintenance of the artificial turf. Please don’t put children’s short and long term health at risk out of ignorance.

  2. On June 6, 2015 at 10:36 pm responded with... #

    Here is a letter I just sent to the Board of Education:

    Dear Board of Education Members:

    I just watched the portion of the BOE meeting where there was a unanimous vote to support letting Somerset Foundation raise $550,000 for an artificial turf field. I am quite shocked that the decision was unanimous and the discussion was so short. By voting for this, you are setting a huge precedent since this is the first elementary school to ask for approval of an AT field. Here are the questions that I don’t have answers to that I think should have been asked at the meeting:
    -Why is there still not an improved policy CNE to govern these types of decisions? Policy CNE was discussed last year and I am not aware that improvements were made after groups met countywide to discuss flaws in this policy. I gave input at this meeting and did not believe AT fields belonged in the same category as playground equipment and other smaller cost items.
    -How will the field be protected? (You are putting taxpayers’ money at risk when you allow a fund raising entity to buy an AT field that could become vandalized or could have a short life span.)
    -Will the field have a fence around it to deter dog walkers from allowing their dog to “use the facilities” on the field?
    -Will there be a fence that is locked when the school is closed? If so, has this information been disclosed to the neighbors?
    -How is if fair for a school with means to get an AT field while other schools will never be able to raise that kind of money? There was some discussion at the BOE meeting about how Somerset has helped other schools, but any help will not be near what it costs for an AT field.
    -What about the risks of an AT field on a hot day? Will kids need to stay off the field when it is above 80 degrees? What safeguards will be in place?
    -Can you expect there will be a Somerset Foundation 10 years from now to foot the bill for a replacement field when the AT field wears out? Whose responsibility will it be to replace the field then?
    -How much money will be spent on the maintenance of the field and who will pay the cost of maintaining it? When the field is contaminated (by animal or human), what are the procedures to properly clean it?
    -Will any groups rent the field and where will that money go?
    -Will the project go out to bid or is James Song choosing Field Turf Tarkett again?

    I understand that there are not enough fields in good condition county wide. However, as much as Board members talk about equity and “gaps,” what you say and what you do is not consistent with your vote on this issue. I do not believe you should have voted to support this fund raising project since you say you support equity and consistency across schools.

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