5 Milwaukee schoolyards get needed improvements

NOW: 5 Milwaukee schoolyards get needed improvements

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Many Milwaukee schools are in need of upgrades to their outdoor spaces. The schoolyards have long been gated in asphalt that provides no educational value for students, but some local school and city officials want to change that. 

"Not having the amenities, it was easy to maintain," said Wendell Williams, the director of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Foundation. "But it's not something that a parent is going to say 'I really want to send my kid there.'"

Five schoolgrounds in Milwaukee recently got an upgrade -- Academy of Accelerated Learning, Allen-Field Elementary, Bay View Montessori, La Escuela Fratney and North Division High School.

"It was flooding by the track, it was flooding up there," said Dontae Luttrell, a senior at North Division High School. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, a ribbon-cutting was held to show off the new grounds at North Division High School. It has new green spaces that allow for outdoor classes and learning. The track and tennis courts have been redone and a lot of work went into fixing underground systems.

The issues that caused the water pooling ran deeper than eye level deterioration. Reflo and the Milwaukee Metro Sewage District came in to fix those systems. 

"It make me feel good," said Luttrell. "Our school, we don't get a lot of recognition. We get a lot of bad talked on our name, so when it looks like this, it looks good."

All of the work that went into fixing the schoolyards was also a real life lesson for students. They were able to take classes to learn about the process and materials. 

It costs about $5 million from start to finish for the five schoolyards. Next year, five more schools will begin construction for their new outdoor spaces.

It's a goal for the MPS Foundation and the city to create more green spaces in Milwaukee, starting with schools. 

"You can't have asphalt covering 45% of the city," said Eric Shambarger, the director of environmental sustainability for the city of Milwaukee. "We have to change that paradigm."

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