BOE approves plan to convert grass fields to synthetic turf


Cassie Sprang

The KSD Board of Education approved the turfing of three grass fields at KHS

The BOE meeting that took place on Feb. 27, covered topics including: converting grass fields at KHS into synthetic turf, highlighting student accomplishments, and reviewing the Student Resource Officer (SRO) program. 

Turf Fields 

The board unanimously voted to approve the motion to convert the fields to synthetic turf. Construction of the fields will begin with the field hockey/lacrosse fields, which would finish end of Aug., then the soccer field, to be completed end of Sept., and finally the baseball/softball fields where construction would be completed middle of Nov. The affected sport’s practices will be moved to NKMS fields while construction is underway, and field hockey and soccer games will take place on the stadium fields at 6 pm.

The motion to convert the grass fields of the baseball/softball, field hockey/lacrosse, and soccer fields to synthetic turf has been brought up at BOE meetings four times prior to this meeting, but this was its first time up for consideration. It has been discussed since 2014 by the community, students, and parents. The total cost of this change would be about $4.2 million. Some positives of the turf fields are that they would be easier to maintain, benefit multiple activities including sports, band, and P.E., allow more programs to use the turf in the summer, and save the district about $60,000 per year. According to Cory Nesslege, the change to turf fields would mean that on rainy days, three separate sports, soccer, field hockey and track and field, about 300 athletes, would no longer need to use the football field turf at the same time, which has caused safety concerns. However, some negatives of this decision were discussed including environmental impacts and health concerns, meeting water retention and runoff requirements, and keeping an area of grass for Track and Field javelin throwers. The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) would need to approve the district’s plan for changing to turf fields to ensure that it has responsible water retention and runoff. Another big topic of discussion was regarding the disadvantages the change would pose on the Track and Field program. The Track and Field coaches have been a part of the discussion to help come up with a plan that allows for javelin throwers to remain at KHS to practice on grass. If not they would have to use rubber tipped javelins on the turf which could negatively impact the programs ability to host meets. 

Awards and Honors 

The board celebrated Lluvia Matlalcuatzi-Munoz, a sixth grader at NKMS, who was one of thirteen winners of the Annual St. Louis County Department of Public Health Healthy Living 2023 Calendar. Her poster, which encourages the healthy habit of meditation, was chosen out of 254 poster submissions from across the St. Louis area. Harry Soell and George Upmeyer, KHS seniors, were also celebrated for being awarded the S.M. Wilson Skilled Centennial Award for participating in the STL Caps Program. Soell and Upmeyer, along with their teammates, created a STEAM educational project: a video to encourage kids to participate in composting. 

Student Resource Officer Review

Dr. Jeremy Mapp shared at this board meeting that the safety of students has increased by 10 percent.  There are 5 resource officers in KSD. One is full time at Kirkwood High School, one is full time at North and one is full time at Nipher.  The other two officers are split between the elementary schools. In the current MLU the only thing they would want to adjust is the wording in it.  At one point it says how the Chief of police is able to use his judgment and they want to change “his” to “their”  because the Chief of police could be anyone. The national events of school shootings that have been happening has caused KSD to reflect on the safety of our school. This led to the board sending surveys out to the community to see how the families wanted to improve safety. The Student Advisory Board had also talked about what they think SROs should do and any concerns they have. During this meeting they also come up with ideas on how SROs connect with students. One idea is to have continuous conversations with SROs monthly. Have reports from the SROs when they were involved with an issue. Also they would have an evolution process with the Director of Safety and Security and collaborate with the building and KSD. Another idea was that each SRO will support the building with safety drills and training. Finally they talked about how each SRO responsibilities will be different depending on which school they are in charge of.