Though it could take up to two years and roughly $2.5 million to
replace existing playing surfaces and tracks at both schools,
officials hope to have an installation plan in place within a few
"In terms of replacement and maintenance, there would be a
savings," said Ali Kiafar, the district's chief facilities and
development superintendent. "We have been told by manufacturers that
over the years the installation would pay for itself."
The district began studying the possibility of installing the
synthetic grass atop a sand and rubber base two years ago, but budget
constraints have slowed progress.
"As of right now, there isn't any money for it," said Dave Kemp, a
school board member who formerly served as athletic director at
Burbank High. "What we're hoping for is at the end of the
[construction] projects in a couple of years, there may be some money
With a light rainy season so far this year, the grass at Memorial
Field has held up pretty well. But heavy rains last year muddied the
field and made it unsafe, resulting in half a dozen cancellations in
physical education classes, football games and band practice, said
Jay Gudzin, assistant principal of athletics and activities at
"If it does rain, [artificial turf] has a drainage system built
into it that takes all the water off almost immediately," he said.
A minor drawback to the man-made material is that on a hot day,
the field could get five to six degrees warmer than the outdoor
temperature, Gudzin said. However, he added, that when the weather
heats up most artificial turf fields can be hosed down, if necessary.
The only renovation to the Burbank High field that Kemp can
remember occurred 30 years ago.
"In 1974, the district decided to excavate the field and level it
because it used to run uphill," he said. "They rebuilt the track and
put in storm drains, but were never able to get grass to grow on it."
Gudzin, meanwhile, said artificial turf would not require cutting,
fertilizing and maintenance painting of the field.
"We have been eagerly awaiting the decision to change the fields
at John Burroughs High School as well as Burbank High School to
artificial turf," he said.