The track at South High School in Minneapolis. Photo by Steve Brandt, Star Tribune.
Nearly 100 people stood in bone-chilling temperatures last week on snow- and ice-covered Barnard Field adjacent to South High School, rallying for fixes to the deteriorating field.
They were "tired of waiting for a plan" from the Minneapolis Public Schools district, and stood outside for half an hour of the frigid Friday afternoon to prove it, said Anita Newhouse, event organizer and South High parent.
The South High community has gathered around what it says is a needed plan for fixes to its athletic field that for years has been what South High parent Scott Schluter called "outdated, unsafe, undersized and inequitable" in an email. A group including parents and students has been lobbying the district and Superintendent Ed Graff in recent months.
The Minneapolis district is working with South High Principal Ray Aponte and staff, families and the community "to determine the best way to address South's needs," according to an emailed statement from Stephen Flisk, the district's deputy chief of schools. The first meeting for planning and design was Wednesday, he said.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis district also wants to give a couple services a building adjacent to South High: Adult Basic Education and Transition Plus, the district's program for 18- to 21-year-old students with disabilities. The district is in schematic design/design development for the project abbreviated as ABE/T+, he said.
The separate South High and ABE/T+ projects will move forward "in parallel," Flisk said.
He added: "We understand that for some families the ABE/T+ location presents some challenges to the long-term visioning of the South High athletic facilities, and we are working to address those concerns."
Schluter isn't upset about the programs going into the building, but rather that the district was proceeding with adjacent plans without creating a plan for South's fixes.
Field problems include an unworkable track, an uneven and too-small playing field and undersized bleachers that were passed down from Roosevelt High School's athletic field upgrades, Schluter said.
About 40 adults and 60 students — many of whom were athletes — came to the rally on Barnard Field last week, Newhouse said. A Finer Meats & Eats food truck parked on the field, selling snacks like hot dogs and cocoa.
The field needs work, said Schluter's daughter Emma Schluter, a South High junior and student athlete.
Barnard Field is "not something we're proud of," she said after the rally on the field.