Dear Decaturish – What’s up with the new sign at Winnona Park Elementary?A sign at Winnona Park Elementary. Photo provided by Carolyn McCarthy
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Editor’s note: City Schools of Decatur provided a response to this letter. It is published at the end of this post.
Winnona Park Elementary has recently posted a sign on the field behind the elementary school. I have attached an image. From the picture, it appears the field is no longer available for public use unless approved in advance by the City Schools of Decatur.
I am a resident of Winnona Park and was drawn to the neighborhood 13 years ago by the wonderful park, creek, and pick up soccer game every Sunday. I cannot fathom that CSD would close this park to the use of its residents outside of school hours.
I want to believe this is a poorly worded sign that meant to communicate that the park is closed during school hours. This would be completely understandable, considering that WPE students use it for recess.
I think I speak for many when I say that I’d appreciate your investigation into this matter.
Here is the response from City Schools of Decatur. It was also included in a recent school district newsletter:
You may have noticed that over fall break, the City Schools of Decatur installed new signs to replace the existing signs on our school properties. The goal of these new signs is to reinforce the existing rules and guidelines for the use of our property. The use request statement on the signs is intended for groups using our properties for organized events and activities and all visitors during school hours. Organized use of school property, such as a soccer club or planned group events, must be authorized through a facility use agreement with City Schools of Decatur prior to the meeting or event. School grounds, such as playgrounds and fields, are still available for drop-in use by individual community members and families outside school hours and scheduled events. Organizations that have been given authorization through our facility use agreement will have priority on the space.
No changes have been made to the district’s long-standing facilities use policies and practices. We continue to support the use of school greenspace by our neighbors and have simply posted these reminders about the responsible use of district facilities.