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District fine tunes field condition reporting

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POSTED October 5, 2017 1:09 a.m.

When the Manteca Unified School District included a summary of the field condition of the stadiums at each of the five comprehensive high schools in a packet for board members last month, not everybody agreed with the ratings.
And beyond issues with the metrics, comments received from staff and the public centered on why only the stadium surfaces were included in a report about field conditions when other sports rely on grass and turf just as much.
In response, Superintendent Jason Messer has responded with a new athletic field condition summary report that will be due to his office every month. It will take an in-depth look at all of the fields that are utilized for athletics throughout the district, and apply a grade to them based on a set of metrics that are agreed to by two separate people that must sign off on the reports.
Using a sample report on East Union High School as a template, Messer pointed out that the new form would include the stadium, practice fields and all levels of baseball and softball fields utilized on or off each of the campuses and will require signatures from a site administrator as well as a district representative trained on how to evaluate field conditions.
Messer said that he has learned a lot about what it takes to maintain turf in recent months – including the fact that the turf used on most surfaces in the district goes dormant in the late fall and early winter and turns brown until it comes out it’s dormant phase – and whoever is tasked with providing the oversight agreement from the district would be educated on the subject as well.
A general field condition assessment form – the forms that were included in the Insight packet distributed to the board for each of the schools last month – will also be attached to the overall athletic field report. It will use a metric standard that takes into account turf condition, pest activity and weed control, irrigation operation and hazards when assigning a value out of 100 to create a unified scale for comparison different schools.  On the form that was attached to the documents that were handed out to the board – the same form that was presented last month – East Union’s soccer and football field scored an 84 for a “good” condition because of good overall turf health, very little weeds and no gopher activity. While the crown on the field is supposed to help drain the field when it rains and when it is watered, it appears to be creating a soggy sideline issue that will be handled by adjusting when the field is watered.
Based on the information provided, East Union’s stadium field would currently be closed based on the sample report – meaning that it couldn’t be used for anything except special events like games – as would the stadium track. A brief description of each of the other sporting surfaces show that the varsity baseball field currently has a poor rating, while the sophomore diamond as well as both the varsity and JV softball fields across the street from campus are rated as acceptable.
The information that is submitted to Messer’s office would be compiled in that monthly snapshot report and distributed to both the board and the public.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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