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Lincoln Elementary School parents met with School District 65 and City officials on Jan. 24 to discuss concerns about the shortage of usable outdoor space during recess. 

During the renovation of Lincoln school in 2012, the school lost its only permanent green space when the field was converted to serve as a retention pond. The field becomes unusable at times because water flows into the area and/or ice forms, and it creates a safety issue. In the past five years, the school’s population has almost doubled, from approximately 300 to 550 students. Lincoln School is one of the largest elementary schools in the District and has one of the smallest outdoor green spaces. Parents are working with the City and with District 65 to try to find a solution.   

The renovation, designed to upgrade the facilities and add additional classrooms, resulted in a redesign of the field intended to help manage drainage in the neighborhood. The center of the once-flat field was dug deeper, effectively making it resemble a bowl surrounded by a steep incline. The field is often off limits to students after it has rained or snowed, because it becomes too muddy or icy. 

“We are grateful for the wonderful renovation of the school,” said PTA co-president Sarah Laing. “But the state of the field is simply not practical for the amount of students, especially given that we already have so little green space. There are frequent recess periods where there are close to 200 third- and fourth-graders sharing a restricted black top.” 

Approximately 40 parents showed up at the school for the Jan. 24 morning discussion with Alderwoman Melissa Wynne, School Board President Tracy Quattrocki, and District 65 Interim Superintendent Mary Brown. Another meeting was scheduled last night – after this paper went to press – to discuss possible solutions with the field’s engineer.