We know there is a lot of excitement surrounding the large playground structure upgrade project. There is an online survey that has been sent out (via Facebook and in an email to members) that talks through the 3 options we currently face, we hope everyone will vote!. We also know that the project has been in the works for several years so new families to Stillwater might not know the background. We have put together some answers to commonly asked questions about the project. If after reading this you still have questions/comments, please reach out to our president, Monique Linz, president [at] stillwaterptsa [dot] org.
Why are we saving for a new playground? The project began after many community members asked if we could replace the large playground structure. There was a survey done a few years ago and it was the top of the wish list for both community members and students. The current playground structure seen below is original to the school (1989) and many felt it could use an upgrade.
Is the current playground equipment insufficient or nearing the end of life? There is nothing specifically wrong with the playground above wear and tear, it is just old. We had the vendor for the large playground structure out to our site several years ago to see if we could replace some of the worn parts. We were told the playground is too old to order replacement parts. We were able to order replacement parts for broken pieces on the smaller playground on the other side of the playground because that structure is not as old as replacement parts can still be ordered.
How was it determined that the new playground would be the initiative the PTSA would fund vs something else? Once we knew there was a majority ask to replace the large playground structure, we surveyed our members in 2017 and asked if we should solely focus our fundraising efforts on the playground and cut off funding to other items at Stillwater OR if we should continue to fund other items at Stillwater and put anything extra raised towards playground savings. The latter option was selected. So our fundraising efforts over the last few years have not solely been focused on the playground. Our fundraisers supports our budget in its entirety which gives money for staff grants, field trips, supply money for every classroom teacher, art docent, specialist teacher supply funding, field day and much more! As an example, for the last 2 years we started with a budget of $10k for staff and school grants but by the end of both years gave almost double that because additional needs arose. That is important to note because we have still been fulfilling the needs of Stillwater while saving for the playground thanks to the generosity of our community. Had our Hawk Walk and Hop-a-Thon just made goal the last few years, we would not have the playground savings that we do. Thank you everyone!
Can we apply the money saved for the playground to site improvements like the ones mentioned in the 2020 bond? We have had two votes now to save funds for a playground upgrade. They occurred in June of 2018 and June of 2019 at general membership meetings. At both meetings, the excess in funds raised from the year was voted to be set aside for playground savings. At this point, the money is locked in for playground savings. A vote would be required to move the money to actually purchase equipment or adversely a vote to move the money to another initiative. However, these funds would not go far in funding the site upgrades and concerns listed in the 2020 bond. Those upgrades which the district assumes responsibility for will cost far more than what we have saved. Please see the pre-bond advisory committee presentation that we posted to our Facebook group on October 26th for more details about the bond and the impact to Stillwater.
Will the current equipment be removed and replaced with new equipment or will the new structure exist in parallel with the existing structure? The old structure would be removed and a new one would go in it’s current footprint. That is why we have said that continuing to save would not necessarily get us a “bigger” playground, the footprint is what the footprint is. It has not yet been decided what will happen to the current structure, ie if there is another school that could use pieces of it.
Will the kids get to vote on the playground structure option they like the most? YES! We know the kids have been the ones working hard to raise funds so we want their input too. Starting Monday, October 28th the kids will have the same 3 options presented in the community survey. Three posters will hang in the gym and during their PE specialist time, the kids will get to vote on their favorite option.
Why are you proposing swings? Won’t the district turn down swings? The answer is we don’t know. Our initial plans involved zip lines but the district up front said no to that. They said we could include swings and they would consider it. So again we speak to the disclaimer that was in the survey that the two playground structure options still have to go through the district approval process.
What happens after the voting on the survey is closed? The PTSA will move forward with the option that won the majority vote. If continue saving is selected, then we will continue to save and work on getting quotes for more elaborate structures. We have had some feedback from parents regarding this option. The belief being that kids who are fundraising now should get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. What we will say to this is that we don’t raise money for the 500+ kids that walk through Stillwater today, we fundraise for all the kids that have or will enter through the doors of Stillwater. There are MANY things at the school today that students enjoy but had zero part in the fundraising that acquired those items. But we get it, a lot of students and community members want to see the new playground go in, waiting is hard! 🙂 We are bound by following what “the majority” chooses, so this survey was our way at gauging what the majority wanted to do. If one of the two structures proposed are selected as the majority, then the next step will be formally presenting that option to the district and then from there the district will negotiate with the playground vendor to add/adjust/delete aspects of the structure until they have one that meets all their safety standards. Once the district has signed off on the structure we can get the final quote and proceed forward with a vote to release the funds to the district.