Updated at 9:18 a.m. Sept. 11.
Come have a cup of coffee and get to know us.
That’s the invitation Debbie Beyer is extending to neighbors around Liberty Charter High School, which opened its doors on the campus of Palm Middle School two weeks ago. The school’s executive director says the community is welcome to drop by for a chance to meet some of the staff and visit the campus during a back-to-school open house from 7 to 7:45 p.m. Tuesday.
The invite comes following online criticism of the school prompted a stream of comments from readers frustrated that the gates to the athletic field had been locked.
Bill Cass, who lives within walking distance of the school, is disappointed the field is no longer open for neighbors to use. He says he and two other residents went to the school with their concerns and were told the field was closed to the public.
“It had become a local spot to get in some walking exercise,” Cass stated in an email. “And the kids used it to play basketball and play baseball and soccer.”
He and his group now drive to a park to exercise.
Beyer says she received one letter about the school’s action, and has discussed the matter with the couple who contacted her.
“They came over, we met and we talked,” Beyer says. “And it was a good conversation.”
Beyer says the gates to the athletic field have been locked to establish boundaries and make the field safe for students to use for sports. The field was in poor condition when the school took over the campus in August, according to Beyer, who says it was covered with dog droppings.
Now, the area is being rehabilitated with the goal of making the field suitable for CIF games. The school currently offers volleyball, soccer, basketball, track and field, and cross-country to its students.
“We are trying to be good caretakers of the school,” she says, adding that there is a possibility of a partnership with the community in the future.
“We want to make friends,” she says. “We just have to do it a little at a time.”
Palm Middle School was due to budget cuts. Liberty Charter High School leases the campus from the district for $300,000 a year.