petition drive is underway to ask Pacifica families to force the Pacifica School District to maintain safe and usable fields.

The petition states the fields at Ortega, Vallemar, Cabrillo, Ocean Shore and Sunset Ridge elementary schools and Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School are in horrendous condition and that they are unsafe for children to use.

The petition states that a parent recently broke his ankle and there have been numerous sprained and twisted ankle injuries because of many hidden protrusions and uneven surfaces covered in weeds and patches of grass. Parents complain that standing water after rains doesn’t drain for many days.

The fields at Ortega Elementary School

The fields at Ortega Elementary School get a workout, including from Pacifica Little Leaguers.

The fields have been neglected for years, the petition states. Families, PTO boards, American Youth Soccer Organization and Pacifica American Little League have all voiced their concerns. Petitioners say teachers at IBL will not allow physical education and restrict what they can do because of the conditions and the potential high risk of injury.

Those who signed the petition maintain that PSD has an obligation to maintain safe and usable fields for children. Some parents say the school district should be accountable and liable for the injuries that have occured. The petition states PSD has been irresponsible and careless with children’s safety by neglecting the fields over the years.

The petition notes that the school district has gotten COVID-19 relief funds and is making money from AYSO and PALL baseball renting the fields. Pacifica families have offered to volunteer their own time and effort to help patch the holes and the petition states the district won’t allow it.

“There is interest from the community in improving the conditions of our fields,” wrote Heather Olsen, PSD superintendent, in an email to the Tribune. “At our January board meeting, we will discuss current costs, conditions and challenges, and quantify the costs to improve the fields as well as resources available.

“We do have a longer-term plan to replace the Ortega field with artificial turf as a part of the Measure O Facilities Plan to begin construction in Summer of 2023,” she added.

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

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