The Eugene Field Elementary School PTO is gearing up for a series of fundraisers to pay for new playground equipment.

But the school’s parent-teacher organization’s leader told the school board Monday night the group’s $40,000 project could not be realized without financial assistance from the district.

Lori Catlin, PTO president, outlined playground upgrades designed to meet the school’s needs and to replace outdated equipment — including some pieces that represented potential safety concerns, according to a recent, independent inspection conducted by Southeast Kansas Education Service Center-Greenbush, Girard.

A survey of the school’s teachers identified the need for an outdoor classroom, playground equipment for the older students at the school, 720 Tremont Ave., Ottawa, which houses kindergarten through fifth grades, as well as ground covering and new fencing, Catlin said. The new pieces would not take away from the school’s existing green space, she said.

The PTO received a $40,000 bid from AB Creative Inc., De Soto, for the new equipment, which would include such items as a “swing set, slide unit, balancing system, track rides and rock duo.” The price includes installation of the equipment, as well as the removal and reinstallation of the two basketball goals on the playground.

“They have given us a very good price,” Catlin said of AB Creative’s bid. “It’s not been a friendly economy for playgrounds.”

If approved by the board, installation ideally could take place in summer 2013, Catlin said, adding the sooner the school could get on AB Creative’s waiting list the better, because summer installations are in high demand.

The company also gave the PTO a bid of nearly $42,752 to install a rubberized surface and other ground cover on the playground. But that material could be added at a later date, Dean Katt, superintendent of schools, told the board. He said mulch could be used as a ground cover at a much cheaper cost.

Richard Smith, the district’s facilities and operations, said a load of mulch installed at Lincoln Elementary School, 1102 N. Milner Road, Ottawa, cost the district about $2,400.

To raise funds for the playground equipment, Catlin said, the PTO is planning a chili supper and silent auction Feb. 1 at the school.

In conjunction with Eugene Field’s Dr. Seuss family reading event in the spring semester, the PTO plans to sponsor a read-a-thon to help raise playground funding, Catlin said. Each student would have an opportunity to raise money through sponsorship for reading.

The read-a-thon encourages reading, and it shows students that being a good reader can change your life, Catlin said. The event would provide a no-cost to low-cost fundraising for playground, she added.

“It lets the students be active participants in improving their school,” she said.

Catlin indicated some other opportunities to raise funds also are in the works. She outlined numerous supplies and other assistance the PTO provides to the school each year. She said that’s why the school district’s financial assistance is sorely needed to prevent the organization from diverting funds from supplies to go toward the playground equipment.

“We are a small but determined group,” Catlin told the school board. “But it would take us 10 years of fundraisers to raise the money we need for the playground equipment without your help.”

School board members thanked Catlin for her presentation and the time and effort the PTO has put into the project. The board agreed to put the playground equipment proposal on its Jan. 14 agenda for discussion. The board’s regular scheduling meeting Dec. 24 has been canceled because of the holidays.

Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at