ARLINGTON -- Fisher Elementary's playground has been in need of extensive repairs since early 2011.
Initially, members of the school's Parent Teacher Group spearheaded the fundraising efforts to replace the existing structure. These efforts included spaghetti dinners, a gift card sale, McDonald's dinners, and the distribution of corporate and community solicitation letters.
However, the group was only mildly successful, raising only $2,500 in a three-year period.
Last January, the group approached the Arlington School District Board and asked if they would be willing to help replace the school's aging playground, at which many of the apparatus had been deemed unsafe after an inspection by a company that installs the equipment.
According to Lacoste, the current structure, most of which has been closed to students for quite some time, is between 30 and 40 years old.
The playground's large yellow slide was removed last spring, Lacoste noted, because of safety issues. However, there are still swings and a few other areas asccessible to students.
Lacoste said that the original plan was to purchase a single structure that would be able to hold Fisher's entire student population, about 200 children.
However, an estimate from the company that would install the structure totaled about $100,000.
"We knew that was a lot of money, too much money, and that we wouldn't be able to afford that," Lacoste said. "So, we scaled back a bit."
Lacoste explained that the school received a flier over the summer from one company offering a "50 percent off" deal if the school agreed to purchase a structure before Dec. 1 of this year.
The cost of an initial structure, which could be added to in future years, according to Lacoste, will total $36,000 if purchased on or before Dec.1.
Lacoste approached the board again during last week's Arlington School Board meeting, asking the members for their support in the final stretch of their fundraising efforts.
To date, Lacoste said the PTG has raised a little over $12,000.
At the meeting, the board agreed to fund the remaining $24,000, which would enable the purchasing of the structure, if they were given the OK to transfer money from their capital fund.
"The whole thing really hinges on whether they can move those funds," Lacoste said. "But the board has been supportive through this process in seeing what funds they have available and we appreciate that."
In the meantime, Lacoste said a handful of other fundraising projects are wrapping up, including an ongoing bottle drive at the Bennington Beverage Outlet and a "mixed bag" catalogue fundraiser.
Parent Barry Flanery has also started an online fundraising campaign, according to Lacoste, which allows current parents, community members and Fisher alumni to donate.
Kate Bryan, a Fisher alumna, along with three other Fisher "grads" together agreed to donate for four consecutive months, each donation in honor of a special elementary school memory or experience.
"Though we haven't quite reached the goal, I feel in some small way we've each made a difference and encouraged others to do so too," Bryan said.
Lacoste said she expects a discussion regarding the school board's donation will be discussed during the next meeting, slated for Thursday, Nov. 21, at 6:30 p.m.
Individuals wishing to donate to the Fisher Elementary playground project can call the school at 802-375-6409 or visit www.youcaring.com/other/fisher-elementary-school-playground/100974 to donate online.
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.