A Congress Park elementary school has been sending out a plea to neighbors to keep their dogs off a brand new turf field, something the school cannot afford to replace. Sabrina Bates, principal at …
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A Congress Park elementary school has been sending out a plea to neighbors to keep their dogs off a brand new turf field, something the school cannot afford to replace.
Sabrina Bates, principal at Teller Elementary School, said the field has only been open to students for about a month. The nails on dog’s paws dig holes into turf fields, and some owners have not been cleaning up after their pets, she said.
Another neighbor first alerted the school to the problem since the building is not staffed after school hours, she said.
On top of the damage that’s already been caused by the animals, Bates added that it is Denver Public Schools policy that dogs are not allowed on school grounds.
“To essentially just disrespect the space by not following the rules is just wrong,” she said. “I literally cannot afford (1) to replace it, (2) to repair it.”
In the past six years that Bates has been working at Teller, students and staff alike had been advocating for a turf field on the property.
The former field had become dangerous, Bates said. Every time it would snow, it would melt and freeze over, essentially creating an ice rink where the kids were supposed to spend their recess time.
“It’s such a small space, that when you have 530 children on it every day, real grass will never grow,” she said.
Bates started at the school as assistant principal and was promoted to principal three years ago.
Through bond funds, Teller received $100,000 for building projects. Bates said that money was immediately set aside in the hopes of raising additional funds for a new turf field. After DPS administrators came to look at the field and its safety issues, the district offered to pay for the field in full.
Bates said it was lucky because the school would have likely needed to raise an additional $65,000 to pay its own way.
“We’ve wanted it for so long, that for us to finally get (the field), it’s been a blessing,” she said.
Turf installation began in mid-October and took five weeks.
Since neighbors have been using the field, Bates said the school has posted signs saying that no dogs are allowed and that the building is under surveillance. Bates also wrote a letter to the Congress Park Neighbors, which was distributed in a newsletter. Nothing has worked.
Bates said the next step will be to lock the gates in the fence around the playground. But she has reservations on going that far because she doesn’t want kids climbing the fence to get to the field after school hours.
“It makes me sad that we’re having to potentially have to take away our playground from our kids because people can’t follow the rules,” she said. “It puts us in a hard place.”
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