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Swedeborg PTO has almost enough money for new playground equipment
Swedeborg PTO has almost enough money for new playground equipment

PTO representative Kristi Cargill explains her playground proposal at Monday night's Swedeborg school board meeting.
SWEDEBORG, Mo. (Jan. 19, 2010) — Representatives of the Swedeborg PTO told school board members Monday night that their school is less than $500 away from obtaining heavily-discounted playground equipment from Fry and Associates of Kansas City for $11,749, including a $650 supervised installation fee.

All of that money will be paid by community residents and supporters rather than from taxpayer funding, said PTO representative Kristi Cargill. So far, $11,293 of the needed funding has been raised. The deadline for the special discount price is Jan. 29 but Cargill said meeting that deadline shouldn’t be difficult with a basketball game, chili cookoff, and several other fundraisers in the near future.

“This was by far, especially for the price that we were given, the nicest set of equipment that we could find for that,” Cargill said. “It’s much lower than comparable pieces of equipment that we have been able to look at so we have been really pleased by that.”

Raising the money from private donations is especially important because of a proposal on the April election ballot for a substantial tax levy to pay off tuition deficits and put the school district on a sound financial footing, she said.

“We would really like this to be something, especially with the tax levy going on, that PTO would be able to say that the playground was funded completely off of the generosity of the community and the parents of Swedeborg and that the school wasn’t out anything to make that happen,” Cargill said.

Fundraising efforts have stretched beyond the local community and tapped into alumni of Swedeborg as well, she said, with a special funding solicitation sent to 40 graduates of Swedeborg who now live in other areas but who PTO members believe are willing to help the school.

“We feel like we have tapped for years now our same small community base of people as far as financing this so we are hoping to find some other people who support Swedeborg school,” Cargill said.

District Administrator Joe Dunlop agreed, noting that Swedeborg’s current playground has been one of the risk factors cited in the school’s insurance review.

“It’s going to look good and it’s going to dress the school up a bit,” Dunlop said. “It would be a shame to lose something like this because this is extremely important.”

Cargill said she doesn’t think there will be a problem raising the remaining $456.

“We are confident that the PTO is at the point that we are ready to go ahead and say we can sign by this week and get it in to him by the 29th,” she said. “I feel confident that everybody is going to want to help us fill that gap.”

Asked about details on the playground equipment package, Cargill said it has numerous slides and climbing items without having features that could cause problems for supervising young children. It’s designed for ages 5 to 12, she said — the age of most students in the Swedeborg district that serves only kindergarten through eighth grade without a high school program.

“It has a lot of preferred features… the teachers had asked that didn’t have a lot of enclosed tunnels and hidey-holes and that kind of thing so supervision of all the kids could happen. It also has several different slides and play areas for them,” Cargill said.

The “supervised installation” cost of $650 is much less than the company’s ordinary cost of $5,000 to send their own work crew to supervise playground installation, and Cargill said Swedeborg parents are willing to help install the playground equipment.

Board president Jamie Alexander said he’s worried installation may be more complicated and might require leveling the ground before installing the equipment. Cargill said she believes it may be possible to salvage much of the existing pea gravel, but if that doesn’t work, Dunlop said grants may be available for shredded tires to use as a rubberized surface under the playground equipment to avoid injury to students.

Cargill said even if it’s necessary to buy the playground equipment and store it pending installation, that’s better than losing the opportunity to buy a low-cost equipment set.

“We’re getting a huge discount on this equipment we won’t be able to get again,” Cargill said.

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