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Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:19 PM

Playground upgrade approved

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer

Eugene Field Elementary School could have new playground equipment in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

The Ottawa school board voted 5-2 this week to purchase $41,356 worth of playground equipment from AB Creative Inc., De Soto, to replace outdated pieces.

At the board’s December meeting, Lori Catlin, PTO president, outlined playground upgrades designed to meet the school’s needs and to replace outdated equipment — including some pieces that represented potential safety concerns, according to a recent, independent inspection conducted by Southeast Kansas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 and 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 new equipment 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.

Richard Smith, the district’s facilities and operations, told the board his department had repaired the equipment that posed the most serious safety concerns identified by the Greenbush inspection.

In response to a question from board member Dennis George, Superintendent Dean Katt said funds to purchase the equipment would come from capital outlay.

“By ordering the equipment and getting on [AB Creative’s] schedule now, we are hoping it can be installed over the summer,” Katt said.

The PTO is planning several fundraisers to purchase ground cover materials — such as mulch — for the playground, Katt said.

Board members Brian Kane, Brandon Jones, Bill Allegre, Susan Ward and Marge Stevens voted for the playground equipment purchase. George and board member David White cast the dissenting votes.

Doug Carder is senior writer. Email him at dcarder@ottawaherald.com

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