Killingworth School playground plan cuts costs, raises liability issues, officials say

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KILLINGWORTH – Killingworth Elementary School slated to receive a new playground – possibly before the start of the new academic year – after PTO members raised $ 75,000 for the structure and concerns about community building were allayed .

The Board of Education initially agreed to pay $ 25,000 for a play structure for the school, which serves kindergarten and first grade children, after inspections in 2019 and 2020 found the structure in wood was rotting and causing safety issues.

The PTO presented plans for a playground during a March Facilities Meeting, informing committee members that they had already raised $ 26,000 in donations for the project, with pledges made for more.

The council has approved the new playground, which will cost $ 100,000.

Donations came 100% from families in Killingworth, said PTO President Abbey Albrecht.

However, a conflict arose over how the funds will be allocated. The council had previously recommended that the project not be a community building. Such projects can save money on assembly when volunteers help set up the equipment while being supervised by a Ultiplay Project Manager.

The PTO had wanted the community to be built as this would reduce installation costs and allow the money collected to be spent on equipping the children.

UltiPlay determined that installation costs could range from $ 12,000 to $ 13,000. Parts of the plan would be removed if the company did the work.

Board accountability issues, however, were alleviated when Ultiplay and COO John Mercier created a waiver for volunteers to sign that the district attorney approved.

“In chatting with Ultiplay, they see a three to four day community build, the first two being mostly structural, digging a hole, mounting footings, and only the playground companies would be involved in all of this, so no type. heavy equipment would not be near community members if we were to take this route, ”Mercier told the board.

Community members wouldn’t necessarily put together the pieces the children climb on, according to Mercier, but things like musical instruments or logs could be put together.

BOE President Suzanne Sack worried about children playing on the structure.

“If the committee’s perception and recommendation is that community building somehow will prevent us from being somehow foolproof and protected by insurance and other matters, then that’s a pretty black and white problem, ”says Sac.

Other members were unsure whether the responsibility of those who play on the playground versus those who build it was a separate issue. One of them mentioned that in a community building UltiPlay would manage everything and that the district also inspects the playgrounds every year.

Sack requested that the donation be approved, subject to discussing with the district attorney and the insurance company the long-term liability and, if necessary, mitigating these issues.

“There is a large sum of money there. The $ 13,000 is a lot of money, so if we can move forward with community building, I think it would be amazing, and it would definitely help us collect more coins for our students, however, there are certainly some valid concerns here, ”said Christy Coppola, PTO member.

Coppola said the PTO would still give the funds even if it had to be professionally installed.

Sack abstained from voting. “The school was very actively involved in fundraising, and it turned into something that I think was a lot like the district continuing this fundraiser and in fact, it wasn’t true,” she declared.

“These people worked hard and they deserve a chance to make it happen for these students. And I don’t want to get in his way, ”Sack said.

All other board members voted in favor of the plan.

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