|By Katie Helland, The Gilroy Dispatch, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
During a joint meeting
"The schools have always served as a supplement to our park system," explained Mayor Pro Tempore
District staff, however, maintained keeping schools open to the public after hours is not worth the clean-up costs incurred from vandals and loiterers who frequently target school campuses as their next blank canvas for tagging and drug use.
"All I can say is, it's really tough to come to school Monday morning and see needles, condoms, people who couldn't find a bathroom and just peed," said
The three elementary schools that remain open are Las Animas, where parents and the surrounding neighborhood asked for the campus to remain open;
Some of the five elementary campuses get locked up after school because the community requested it in the first place, following frequent incidents of vandalism, according to district staff.
"It's a balance between having playgrounds open after school and keeping sites free of vandalism," she said, summing up the situation.
Of the five elementary school campuses that are closed after hours, two --
Eventually, GUSD plans to erect fences around 14 of its 15 campuses, leaving only the
"A lot of the fencing we've done has been the result of direct consul with the
GUSD accelerated its plan to build fences around every campus following the
Four days after the Newton Conn. disaster, Flores met with principals, district staff and the
Recent fencing projects have been funded mostly by about
Construction to make existing fencing at Luigi run the full perimeter of the campus is scheduled to start this spring. Fencing at
Some of Luigi's playground property belongs to the adjacent
Flores noted that construction of the fence should start in the next few months, and that playground equipment may be added later if parents fundraise enough money to purchase it. The fence is being designed so that the public can access six of the 12 basketball courts that belong to the school campus even after the school day ends.
Woodward acknowledged that society has changed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, but also remembers the days when Glenview wasn't fenced in and he could walk to the school to play. He urged the district to be "judicious" in balancing recreation and safety at the school sites.
"Of course during the school day you need to secure the school, but after hours it's unfortunate that the kids can't play there. We have an obesity epidemic in our community," Woodward said. "A lot of people live with very small yards on busy streets and if the kids can go down to the school yard and play, that's a very positive thing."
"I go down certain neighborhoods and I see kids playing in the streets between cars and I think 'God there's a school over there,'" he said.
In 2012, 35 percent of adults in
Woodward urged the district to be "judicious" in approaching a topic that balances security and recreation elements, but ceded the issue is "really a school district question."
(c)2014 The Gilroy Dispatch, Calif.
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