The Rogers High School field used for track, soccer and lacrosse is getting an upgrade, the result of pleas by student athletes, coaches and parents, who urged the City Council to find at least a temporary solution to a field that, according to some, is simply not playable.
“If we can fix it, let’s try to fix it,” said Newport Mayor Jamie Bova on the heels of the council’s adding $25,000 to the budget to provide a “temporary fix” for the field.
This was a quick civics lesson for student/athletes who raised their concerns, and saw government address those specific needs. In this case, it was a field that Bova said is in such disrepair that the teams are forced to play mostly away games.
The student athletes and their parents came out to the first public hearing on the city budget earlier this month, a proposal that did not include funds for the field.
“Seeing the kids care so deeply about it really brings it home to the council,” Bova said after that meeting. “We will explore short- and long-term options.”
Last Wednesday, at the second public hearing on the budget, the council added the $25,000 to the 2019-20 budget to provide for the “temporary fix.”
That field will likely not be the current field. “Where the field is located is basically on a swamp,” Bova said previously. She said the city will look at whatever fields may be available in the city and possibly look to “partner with Salve Regina University.”
“As a former soccer player, I was really happy we could do that,” said Bova, who extolled the benefits that participation in sports provides students.
The reason it’s a “temporary fix,” Bova said, is the recognition that the city will likely build a new high school, after a report from the Rhode Island Department of Education found Rogers High School to be in the worst condition of any high school in Rhode Island, and in need of replacement.
The city is in the process of submitting requests to RIDE for approval to build a new school, and for additional state funding. The city is also exploring the prospects of merging high schools with Middletown.