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School district plans for track renovations at Turlock, Pitman high schools
track improvement pics
The turf at Joe Debely Stadium, which caused problems for last years football teams due to failed compaction tests, is set to be replaced in spring 2018. - photo by Journal file photo

Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees committed $1 million during their last meeting for anticipated improvements to both the Pitman High School track and the district’s Joe Debely Stadium, located at Turlock High School, which will include replacing the stadium’s turf as well as possibly repositioning Pitman’s track.


The transferred funds are designated to maintaining safe and equitable learning environments at both locations, said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor.


The turf at Joe Debely Stadium caused problems for last year’s football teams from both Turlock and Pitman when the field was shut down in August due to failed compaction tests. The artificial turf uses an infill that is supposed to soften the force of an impact, but the environmentally-friendly material began to deteriorate much earlier than the promised 10- to 15-year life span. Renovations at Joe Debely Stadium, which included the installation of the turf field, were completed in 2010.


A new infill replacement procedure occurred last year, and since the turf was under warranty at the time, all costs were covered by the manufacturer. Now, however, Trainor said the turf is nearing the end of its predicted lifespan (the turf’s warranty will expire at the end of this year) and in order to provide student athletes with the safest environment possible, the district made a decision to move forward with replacement. Trainor anticipates that with new technology, the next turf field will last even longer.


“It should be noted that there are relatively new and improved ways in which turf fields are constructed, and the district is interested in pursuing these improvements with the replacement,” said Trainor.


The project is anticipated to cost $1 million, $500,000 of that will be provided by existing developer fees, while the other half of funding was transferred from the district’s General Fund to the Special Reserve Capital Projects Fund at Tuesday’s meeting. The district is currently reaching out to multiple turf vendors, paying close attention to the lifespan of each product, said Trainor, and the project is anticipated to begin in spring 2018.


An additional $500,000 was transferred to the Special Reserve Capital Projects Fund to be designated for the potential re-orientation of the Pitman track and other upgrades. According to Trainor, the district has immediately begun the planning stages of this project.


The district will examine whether or not Pitman’s current track and field, which runs east and west, can be repositioned to run north and south so that the setting sun is not in student athletes’ eyes. Additional upgrades may include an improved all-weather track and turf field with infrastructure to support various improvements throughout the years, all in conjunction with bond funding.