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Pleas aren’t enough to reschedule stadium project

Pleas from students, parents and one coach got Farmington School Board members to reconsider a construction schedule that will force this year’s graduation ceremonies out of Tiger Stadium, but they weren’t enough to make the board change its mind.

By a vote of 3-2, board members stuck with the decision they made Feb. 22 to start repairs on the stadium at the end of May. That schedule would affect any home playoff games for the school’s lacrosse teams. It would also mean the district could not hold graduation in the stadium.

That last point did not sit well with many students, several of whom showed up Monday to ask board members to change their minds. They objected to the idea they would not be able to graduate from the stadium that has been a focal point of the school, and to the suggestion an outdoor graduation could be moved to the stadium at Boeckman Middle School.

“I believe holding graduation at Boeckman will put our standards on the line,” senior Pieper Walton said. “Our stadium is beautiful and it is only eight years old. We moved out of Boeckman for a reason. It’s not up to our standards.”

Others said much the same. Senior Jen Miller said graduating from the stadium would provide students a fitting end to their Farmington school careers.

“We worked so hard to get to the end,” she said. “It’s the seniors’ time, and I think all of us agree they deserve a chance to have graduation where they want it.”

Many students argued that leaving graduation in place was a matter of honoring students’ academic commitment, but members of the Tiger girls lacrosse team said it’s an athletic issue as well. Coach Steph LaVictoire said her team hopes to have home field advantage in the section playoffs, and would like for it to be an actual advantage.

“They earned this,” she said. “They should have the opportunity to play at Tiger Stadium.”

But board members and superintendent Jay Haugen said fixing the stadium will be a big job, and construction crews need as much time as they can to get the work done. Water is getting in under the plazas at both stadium entrances and causing concrete to crack and heave. Until they start digging, Haugen said, nobody is sure where that water is coming from.

“It isn’t just fixing a retaining wall or digging up and fixing some bad spots,” Haugen said. “They are going to come in and literally dig out the plazas, both plazas, five feet deep.”

Haugen compared the project to last summer’s reconstruction of 195th Street. The district started the summer expecting that work would be done by the time school started again in the fall, but ended up busing some students for two months because of weather delays.

Board member Laura Beem said fixing the stadium is a safety issue. There are two-foot gaps in the concrete, she said. And since rainy weather has forced most of the district’s graduation ceremonies inside in recent years, she said starting stadium construction early made sense.

“I don’t like taking things away from your kids or from you kids … but we were elected to make appropriate business decisions,” Beem said. “This is a big issue for the school.”

After hearing from students, board members voted to have another discussion about the stadium timeline, but by the end of the night only board members Melissa Sauser and Steve Corraro voted to make a change.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606
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