Loudoun Supervisors Reject School Board Turf Testing Conditions: ‘You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourselves’

County supervisors turned down the School Board’s conditions for testing artificial turf fields in a decision punctuated by an excoriating rant by Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) on Tuesday night.

The School Board had accepted the Board of Supervisors’ offer to pay for testing at three artificial turf fields, but stipulated the county must also test three grass fields, more than doubling the price tag from $27,900 to $68,000. The testing is aimed at addressing concerns that artificial turf fields may contain harmful materials.

Supervisors felt that School’s Board’s condition was not made in earnest.

Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

“This was their attempt to give us a poison pill to back down,” opined board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). Buona said he had been told “this was their way of giving us a way out, was to kick it back to us with a bigger price tag, and I was told that bluntly.”

This infuriated Randall.

“For them to do this, they’re playing games, and they’re playing games with maybe the safety of all our students,” Randall said. She pointed out that all schools are surrounded by grass fields, and that there have been no suggestions that they are causing cancer—a possibility that has been raised around artificial turf, although without conclusive evidence.

“School Board members, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Randall said. “Hear me. You should be ashamed of yourselves. … We’ve been playing on grass for centuries, and here we’re doing this little game playing right now.”

“We’re going to test something that covers probably half the county?” said Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian), similarly incensed. “This is a typical back and forth between the School Board and the county. I don’t want to play any more.”

Supervisors reacted to the perceived ploy differently.

Some supervisors, such as Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling), wanted to send the agreement back to the School Board with the offer to test only one grass field.

When that failed, Randall, Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), and Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Broad Run) supported a motion to swallow the “poison pill” and test three grass fields. That motion failed 3-6, meaning the board will not pay to test any fields—natural or artificial.

After the vote, the board took a short break. Returning from the break, Randall apologized for her outburst.

“I worked in the prison system for 15 years and never raised my voice one time,” Randall said. “No, literally never. Ask my inmates. Eight months into this job and I’m yelling and pointing and making you-statements.”


11 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Reject School Board Turf Testing Conditions: ‘You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourselves’

  • 2016-09-07 at 5:21 am

    Phyllis – you do have a way with words. You never, ever raised your voice at a convicted Felon???? Even I raised my voice at my own kids, who are after all good kids…. I worked with convicted Felons my entire life and they are 10x worse than my kids and you never, ever raised your voice???? Perhaps if Governor McAuliffe, you old Boss, werent dolling out pardons and granting voting restoration rights like they were M&M’s to a significant amount of violent felons, and some of those who were initially charged with much more serious crimes, but only convicted of less serious crimes, due to plea agreements to lessen the overburdened courts, then we could find just one (or two) who would disagree with you…. Perhaps….?

  • 2016-09-07 at 7:34 am

    So Chairwoman Randall finally learned that the school board plays games… That’s all they do. Let’s recap.

    In this year’s legislative proposals, the LCSB asked the General Assembly to change Virginia law so that LCSB could sue other public agencies without the support of the BOS! The school board claimed that they should be able to use funds on their own even regardless of the support from the county’s main elected body. Voters pick school board candidates as an afterthought and most don’t even run on platforms. However, BOS candidates must spend $100K’s to get their message out and voters are much more knowledgeable of their positions. To treat school board members as equivalent positions, even though LCPS spending is ~2/3 of the budget, is ridiculous.

    Then, let’s not forget their budget strategy. LCSB focuses on giving their spouses, oops teachers some of whom happen to be their spouses, the largest pay raises the budget can afford. They also try to keep class sizes lower than surrounding areas even though evidence shows that is not effective. The LCSB then cuts dozens of smaller programs with special interest support to generate maximum outcry from such groups. LCSB tries to pin the blame on the BOS even though one wise official pointed out that giving money to LCSB is like giving the car keys to an adolescent and hoping they don’t do something stupid. That’s your school board folks.

  • 2016-09-07 at 8:29 am

    Randall is correct to chastise this School Board who has been up to nothing but shenanigans this whole term. The current school board is a travesty and Loudoun deserves better! Why block the testing unless they are afraid of the results. You can only hide so long before damning evidence comes out. What side of history does this School Board want to be on? Obviously the wrong side.

  • 2016-09-07 at 11:01 am

    Bravo Chair Randall for telling it like it is. Don’t back down from the education industrial complex. You have nothing to apologize for. You work for all the taxpayers of Loudoun – not a monolithic fiefdom. Your job is to call out insanity like this.

    It’s not about our kid’s education or the teachers and staff in the trenches with these people; it’s all about money and power. This is what is rational people call extortion.

    The School Board wants to test – grass — at triple the expense? Someone at “Extortion Court” is having a good laugh about the one they pulled over on the Board of Supervisors. Loudoun Now should find the name of that person and publish it.
    What are they hiding?

  • 2016-09-07 at 11:37 am

    Chris Manthos, I can give you their names: Eric Hornberger and Debbie Rose. Rose wants to use the turf regardless and opposes any and all testing. Hornberger doesn’t want it but instead of coming out and saying it, he claimed that they needed a “comparison/baseline”. That was just his way of inserting a poison pill. He couldn’t tell the truth if his life depended on it.

    It’s funny. Normally Randall and the liberals just love the lies that come from the school board (“our teachers are not paid competitively” even though they get more than FFX at lower costs of living). But when the lie has to do with student safety, such games are not funny anymore. I wonder if Randall will go on record promising to call out all lies the school board makes? Or maybe she might even suggest the school board take an “ethics pledge”? Nah, Randall prefers to censor those in the public who even suggest Hornberger and his crew should conduct themselves in an ethical manner, right Phyllis? Is that what you plan to tell Judge Cacheris?

  • 2016-09-07 at 2:42 pm

    Appreciate it SGP. What is Debbie Rose’ stake in these fake and overpriced “fields?” Does she own stock or something?

    Here’s hoping that Chair Randall has experienced an epiphany into the true nature of these kind of people – power, money (other peoples of course) and hubris: A frightening combination by any standard.

    This is a chance for Chairwoman Randall to separate herself from the extreme fringes of the establishment machine and make it plain she represents mainstream Loudoun taxpaying mom’s, dad’s, and students.

  • 2016-09-07 at 6:32 pm

    Chris, to my knowledge, none of the school board members have a financial stake in this decision. Rose represents Algonkian and Park View was one of the later high schools to get a turf field. Rose indicated Algonkian felt slighted that other schools had more available turf time for sports practices. In fact, I believe the Park View soccer team won the state title and it was noted they won despite having a difficult field schedule.

    I think several school board members think the health concerns are much ado about nothing and want the whole issue to go away. They might be right. Or it could be similar to the football concussion issue – a serious concern.

    The school board members know it is politically problematic to dismiss parents’ concerns. Rose virtually did so at one meeting until she later backtracked and now “supports” testing. But as we can see, it is just a show once again. The politicians should stand up for what they believe in. If Rose/Hornberger don’t think testing is needed, say so and vote that way. If not, don’t play games pretending you are for testing when you are clearly trying to undermine the tests.

  • 2016-09-07 at 6:38 pm

    The Board of Supervisors’ response to the School Board was gratifying, and Chair Randall’s
    comments were entirely reasonable and appropriate. For Loudoun Now to label them an “excoriating rant” was unreasonable and, I would say, a bit sexist. Would those words be applied to former Chairman York’s similar kinds of remarks? In any event, thanks to our Supervisors for their wise decision.
    Websters defines a “rant” as something bombastic and defamatory, and Word’s thesaurus gives synonyms such as “outburst, tirade, rage, histrionics.” Hardly what Chair Randall, or any other Supervisor exhibited, but it was surely rightfully “indignant outrage” at such a dim-witted school board proposal to test Loudoun’s grass fields.

  • 2016-09-08 at 10:44 am

    Through all the praise for “tough talk” has anyone noticed that there will now not be any testing of the artificial ball fields in the County where school kids play? It looks to me like the School Board (who, it is claimed, played a game on this) got exactly what it expected. A few members of the Board of Supervisors who got played like a stingless guitar. You hear what ever you want to hear, and nothing happens. I guess from here on out, if you want to stop some board of supervisor action, you bate Chair Randell, and the who thing falls apart.

  • 2016-09-08 at 2:58 pm

    “I worked in the prison system for 15 years and never raised my voice one time,” Randall said. “No, literally never. Ask my inmates. Eight months into this job and I’m yelling and pointing and making you-statements.”

    Tough crowd.

  • Pingback:School Board Revives Turf Study Debate – Loudoun Now

Leave a Reply