PLYMPTON — The Dennett School Committee on Sept. 24 approved Vice-chairman Jason Fraser and Principal Peter Veneto pursuing a plan to renovate the playground at the elementary school.
These renovations include a second swing set, additional wood chips to a depth of at least 9 inches for any fall of ten feet or less, and an expansion of the path for wheelchairs in the recess area. Fraser also wants to modernize the dinosaur-shaped jungle gym.
Additionally, Fraser and Veneto’s plan involved adding rubberized safety mats near the end of the slide and entrance to the playground fixture. There would also be additional matting near one of the swings. Fraser said all of this would be Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
“Our playground is not ADA compliant, and if we ever had a child with mobility issues, we’d have a real moral dilemma of what to do to allow equitable access for all children,” Fraser told the committee.
Veneto said the playground is essentially the only thing tailored for younger kids during recess. He said most of the older kids are playing soccer, so this would be a great benefit to the younger grades.
Addressing the playground was first discussed in May 2015 and has been a permanent agenda item since June 2016. Priorities were shifted when the water treatment facility at Dennett needed replacing. Now that students have safe water, Fraser said the time to purchase a new playground is approaching.
According to Fraser, the budget for the playground is roughly $256,505.86. That budget includes 20 percent in contingency costs, but some of the larger costs are the playground equipment, which estimates at about $97,000 and swings costing roughly $36,000.
Fraser said the school hasn’t spent any of its school choice fund in the budget, which has accumulated $92,258.61 from out of district families. Another $40,000 is projected to come in by Fiscal Year 2019. By July 2019, Fraser and Veneto expect there to be $132,258 in that fund that they want to use for one-time expenditures such as playground renovations.
The committee would need about another $125,000 to complete the project. Fraser said the rest could be paid for if a Capital Plan request is approved and/or applying for grant funding through the Community Preservation Act.
Fraser said he believes some of the infrastructure is already there and the school just needs an engineer to look at the playground through a study. The contingency plan funding planned for a study, Fraser said.
School Committee Chairman Jon Wilhelmsen said he liked Fraser and Veneto’s idea for using the school choice funds. He said it’s the perfect use because the money goes right back to the students.
School Drop-Off Procedures
According to Veneto, parents are doing a much better job following school drop-off procedures that do not allow students to be dropped off until 8 a.m.
He said kids can be dropped off then and wait in the cafeteria until 8:15 a.m. before going to class. There will be staff in the cafeteria then, but not any earlier.
“Having those kids there without any supervision of any kind, that’s a disaster waiting to happen in my opinion,” Veneto said.
Silver Lake Superintendent Joy Blackwood informed the school committee that an assessment of Dennett Elementary’s roof concluded that the school’s roof needs repairs. Blackwood said there have been issues with leaking.
For the repairs to be eligible for grant funding, Blackwood said the roof needs to be at least 20-years-old.
According to Wilhelmsen, some of the roof was built in the ‘90s while the rest was built in 2001. He said it would be worth looking into if the parts of the roof that were built in the ‘90s would be eligible for grant funding.
Dennett Elementary School started out with 200 students this September, according to Veneto.
He said some families left for whatever reason, but many homes are for sale in town. He believes it’s possible enrollment will increase by the end of the year.
“The Dennett Goes Gold” for childhood cancer research fundraiser started this week. Veneto said there is a gold boot in the office to collect change for childhood cancer research. The campaign culminates with all students being asked to wear gold on Sept. 28
There is no school on Oct. 8 because of Columbus Day.
Parent-teacher conferences are Oct. 18. It’s also an early-release day.
The Halloween dance is Oct. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.