By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Despite being cash-strapped and prone to cutbacks these days, the Houston Independent School District dug into its piggy banks and came up with half a million dollars to renovate the playground area at the T.H. Rogers K-8 school.
The $500,000 comes from the proceeds of the 1998 school construction bond program -- a handy find for the district. Another $120,000 will come from the Post Oak Little League that leases fields on the district's land at the school. And the Fields For All group, comprising many Rogers parents, has set a self-imposed goal of raising $50,000 in private donations, according to HISD.
Chief among the new playground attractions will be a 400-meter track accessible for use by the handicapped students at Rogers, and a 165- by 300-foot soccer field. There also will be areas for high jump, triple jump and shot put activities, a basketball pavilion and improvements to the elementary playground.
The bond money also will go for some fixing and removing. Sidewalks that are noncompliant with Americans with Disabilities Act rules will be jackhammered away. A protective covered walkway is being replaced to cover a new five-foot-wide wheelchair bypass sidewalk. Asked whether the drainage problems, which have been a chief complaint among parents, were going to be alleviated, HISD spokesman Terry Abbott said that he was going to have to get more information on that.
Bids were received August 12 and are being reviewed, Abbott said. Subject to approval by the school board, the project is expected to start in the latter part of September and finish in January.
All four of the existing baseball fields will remain pretty much as they are. Batting cages are being moved and the soccer field will be overlaid on the outfield of one of the baseball fields. Temporary fencing will be installed.
The plan was a joint effort by the Fields For All group, the POLL and Post Oak Pony League and HISD -- a remarkable testament to the ability of people to overlook their disagreements, Web site diatribes and hostile e-mails to come together for a good cause.