Hiram Johnson students shed light on campus neglect

Local high school students reached out to ABC10's Walt Gray, saying their athletic fields are in need of attention (April 4, 2017)

School district's budgets throughout our region are tight.

There isn't a pot of gold lying around to fix everything that needs fixing. Walt did a story last month about the condition of McClatchy High School’s athletic practice fields. He toured the fields to see up close how unsafe the running track and football practice field looked. McClatchy has gone decades without outdoor upgrades. They continue to wait while patience wears thin.

After that story aired, about a dozen students at Hiram Johnson High School reached out to Walt with photos of signs hanging from their school, asking “what about Johnson?”

At Hiram Johnson — a school where 80 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced priced lunches — potholes created by burrowing gophers’ liter the athletic fields. Ryan Peterson, teach and coach at Hiram Johnson, said the fields are unsafe.

“There have been some significant injuries,” Peterson said, adding one player fractured an ankle and another suffered a knee injury.

Hiram Johnson’s Principal Dr. Kal Phan added that they’ve spent the last seven years asking the district for help.

“I understand there’s a lot of decisions that have to be made to make sure we have the funding source,” Phan said.

Sacramento City Unified School District, like many school districts, is cash strapped. So much of the district’s budget is tied up with educational needs, infrastructure, air conditioning, and salaries. The school district is not deaf to the cries of safety issues. 

“What we’re doing is trying to identify funds to address the safety issues here on the campus,” Alex Barrios, chief communications manager for Sacramento City Unified School District. “Safety comes first. So when we head stories of students where their safety is at risk, we want to do everything we can to fix those potholes or issues that might create injuries.”

There is $10 million available thru Measure Q, which is earmarked for athletic facility upgrades at the district's five comprehensive high schools, including Hiram Johnson and McClatchy. The school board will vote this Thursday on whether or not to approve the measure.

“I know my colleagues are very eager to put this money to work,” Ellen Cochrane Board of Education Member. “You can never predict how someone will vote, but our high schools need infrastructure repair and Hiram Johnson is one of the primary schools that need help.”

Hiram Johnson has always felt overlooked as that school on the other side of the tracks. They're used to waiting. Always waiting and hoping that positive calls for help, like these signs, will be heard.

Rahjae Johnson, an athlete at Hiram Johnson, said he and the group who put up the signs thought that was better for them to do than complaining or whining.

“It’s not about us getting a field or McClatchy getting a field, it’s about everybody playing on safe fields and competing on the same level,” Johnson said.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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