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Melting Sports Fields At 5 Local High Schools Need New Turf

GLASSELL PARK ( —  Five Los Angeles high schools are having the turf of their sports field replaced after the synthetic surfaces melted.

Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Fairfax, Sotomayor, Diego Rivera and Washington Preparatory high schools were affected.

Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park opened in 2011. Its football field began melting two years ago.

Cheerleader Natalie Rodriguez and football player Erick Martinez have never performed at a home game because the field was off limits.

"I feel like we're less of a school," Martinez said. "We don't get to cheer," Rodriguez said.

The fields were covered with synthetic grass and cushioning plastic pellets, which were supposed to withstand heat up 180 degrees.

"It started melting at 140 degree. And the ground temperature gets very hot because it absorbs heat and retains heat," said Mark Hovatter, Chief Facilities Executive at the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The synthetic material was guaranteed for eight years. It was installed at 10 LAUSD fields. Five need replacement.

The Chinese company that makes the pellets has declined to comment.

The school district is fronting about $4 million to replace five fields. School officials said they are negotiating a reimbursement from the pellet maker.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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