TUSD: Graduation will happen on Tucson High field, despite damage

TUSD: Graduation will happen on Tucson High field, despite damage
Damaged turf from Tucson Magnet High School. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Damaged football field at Tucson Magnet High School. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Damaged football field at Tucson Magnet High School. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - After nearly a year since the field was damaged from monsoon flooding, Tucson Unified School District officials said Tucson High School graduation will be held at Gridley Stadium.

When asked Wednesday, March 28 TUSD Risk Manager Nicole Lowery told Tucson News Now, "Graduation will occur on that field. I can say that with 100 percent certainty."

Questions were raised about the looming May 24 graduation deadline and whether work would be completed in time.

On Tuesday, March 27, the TUSD Governing Board postponed the planned vote to approve funding for, "the replacement of the Tucson High School Stadium Synthetic Turf using a Cooperative Contract that will cost approximately $581,000," the TUSD agenda item stated.

Tuesday's vote postponement occurred, Lowery said, because evaluation from engineers earlier that day revealed fatal flaws in the drainage system that they had hoped they would not see when they opened up the ground.

Lowery explained that they have a large drainage pipe leading to the nearby wash that will need to be replaced and a smaller connecting pipe that, "was not as healthy as it should be."

She said they are reassessing everything, including the bid for the turf and the construction of the drainage system, and expects the price tag to go up. Thus, she did not want to get approval for funding Tuesday, only to have to go back to the board at a later date to ask for more money.

TUSD had been recommended to purchase the new Gridley Stadium field from Field Turf USA. The pricing for Field Turf USA was the lowest bid of the four options presented to the TUSD Procurement Department, according to a memo from an architecture firm that had secured the proposals.

The new cost estimate for the construction will be presented to board members for a vote at the Tuesday, April 10, TUSD Governing Board meeting.

"It's essential to our timeline," Lowery explained.

She said that while graduation will happen on the field May 24, don't expect it to be on the new turf.

"Drain repairs, and field turf replacement will be scheduled around graduation. We expect pipe and basin repairs to be complete well before the big day. Turf replacement will occur after graduation.

The existing turf will be cleaned and resecured for the ceremony," Lowery clarified in an email.

The plan is to replace the turf in time for the 2018 high school football season.

Tucson High Magnet School teams have been unable to practice or play on the field since the July 2017 damage.

The runoff from monsoon storms spilled into Tucson High Magnet School's multimillion dollar turf field back on July 19, 2017.

The field and track were flooded under about seven to eight inches of water, school officials said.

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