Monday, November 9, 2009
Smells like Lawyers
St Mary school was one of the Little Italy and Civic Hospital neighborhood english-catholic french-immersion grade schools for west siders. My daughter went there (that was years ago...). The school was small, but attracted a local clientele and was not closed in part because the alternative catholic school was not perceived by parents as being an attractive choice. Over time, the board eroded the school, removed the french-immersion program, and eventually managed to kill the school. It is now a teacher ed centre, I think. The building sits on a huge block also occupied by another school building (rented out to a succession of private schools) and a church.
The sandy area in the picture above used to be the play structure. It was physcially built by parents and kids one Saturday. The kids moved materials and tools around, goggled at the cement mixer, and were excited and helpful. The parents and kids and teachers had fund-raised for two years to get our third share of the twenty-thousand dollar cost. The other thirds were from the school board and the city. The school board was responsible for maintenance.
We soon discovered what the board's maintenance policy was. Was a wooden post chipped or splintered or cracked? Tear down the whole piece of equipment ! I was so naively astonished that repairs were not in their vocabulary, that maintenace meant only removal. The first bits of structure were gone within a year. The big platforms, ramps, slides, monkey bars ... all evaporated, bit by bit, each summer vacation.
Then the school closed. No kids ... what do they need a play structure for? The last elements, including the ever-popular zip line, are gone. The rented school building is fenced off. Now there is just a giant kitty-litter zone. I suspect that I see the narrow-minded influence of lawyers here ... it is not a school, there should not be a playground feature, it might attract kids which would mean liability issues, better to tear it down. They have not (yet) locked the gates to the grassy fields remaining. I am sure they are working on that.