PTO fundraising for new playground equipment

The two playground structures at the University Elementary School are decades old and they look it. They are worn and broken. The slides have been removed for safety reasons and the openings covered with plywood.

But thanks to the school’s parent-teacher organization’s ongoing fundraising efforts, new playground equipment will arrive in the spring. The group raised $15,000 last year to replace the structure used by K-2 students, PTO President Lauren Gilmore said.

Equipment still on the playing field is very dated, Gilmore said.

“Some of the plastic on the play equipment had broken off,” she said. “Some slides were broken.”

The PTO usually tackles some kind of project every year and last year the PTO decided to fundraise for a new playground.

“Families and the community around the school felt it was time to modernize,” she said. “We all felt like it was really important for our kids and for their enjoyment in school.”

Gilmore has a daughter in first grade and a son in third grade. She said her son told her that he and his friends didn’t use the old equipment much, but were happy to hear that new equipment was coming.

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The original plan was only to raise $15,000 to replace playground equipment for K-2 students and have the Central Valley School District pay the rest of the cost. But now the district has committed to replacing the play structure for older students.

“They agreed to replace both parties and just asked us to continue fundraising,” she said.

The goal is to raise an additional $15,000 this year. Gilmore said the cost to remove the old equipment and purchase and install the two new equipment should be around $200,000.

“It’s a lot to demo and set the stage,” she said. “It’s a lot of

Gilmore said she’s proud parents and school supporters were able to raise $15,000 last year and hopes they can replicate that effort this year. Part of the problem is that there are few businesses in the mostly residential area around the school, which limits the number of larger donations the school might be able to secure.

Donations to this year’s fundraising effort can be made at www.universityelementarypto.com.

As part of the equipment replacement, gravel from the playing field will be removed and replaced with a rubber surface. Gravel has been a problem in the past, Gilmore said.

“Of course it comes back to their place,” she said. “We are delighted with the removal of the fine gravel.”

Parents and students are also delighted to have been able to help select the new equipment to be installed next spring. Every play structure includes at least one slide, bringing that particular playground staple back to school.

“I think it’s really going to spark a new interest and fun during recess,” Gilmore said.

Harold B. McConnell