Thanks to the USD 290 Board of Education and local taxpayers, kids at two local elementary schools can soon look forward to a brand-new recess experience.

“Finally, we get to come to the end of conversations on playgrounds,” said Ryan Cobbs, superintendent. “It’s been going on now for about six months, but we are to the point where we can take action.”

In two separate votes Monday, the board decided 4-2 to spend $348,000 on new playground facilities at Garfield Elementary, and just under $428,000 for new facilities at Lincoln Elementary. The cost for Lincoln’s playground will come out of the district’s capital costs, while Garfield’s will be paid for by the district’s 2015 referendum-decided bond issue.

“The reason we took Garfield out of the bond is it’s tied to the Pre-K Center, and the Pre-K Center would come out of bond,” Cobbs said. “It’s easier from an accounting standpoint make them all go through the same thing.”

The new pre-kindergarten center was also on the evening’s agenda, with the board voting 5-1 to approve the estimated $1.4 million project.

Board members Chris Cunningham and Harold Wingert were the evening’s dissenting voices, with Cunningham voting no on both playgrounds and the pre-kindergarten center.

“[For the playgrounds], one, that’s a lot of money to spend, and I think we could have went about it in a better way than what we did,” Cunningham said. “[For the Pre-K center], same thing. I feel that it is over budget I think there are some things there that we could’ve done better.”

Wingert also expressed his disapproval in the board’s methods when explaining his no vote regarding the two playgrounds.

“I’m excited that we are doing these playgrounds,” he said. “I’m disappointed that they are not both inclusive, and I’m disappointed that we didn’t go out for bids. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it is exciting that we are doing playgrounds. I just think the process could’ve been better.”

Julie Dandreo, board president, expressed her hope that the pre-kindergarten center project would yield returns in the community.

“Not only is it exciting because of the opportunities that it gives us, but when we look at the data that is out there nationally, there have been analysis done on what happens when we have this kind of facility,” she said. “They look at returns on what has been invested, and they range from 2 to 1 to 10 to 1. So we are going to see this back in our community at least doubled, if not tenfold.”