SUNDERLAND— Funding to construct a new playground at Sunderland Elementary School seems possible to obtain after the school board meeting on April 27.
The current playground, 10 years old, will be taken down by volunteering companies, and replaced with new equipment under the Sunderland School Playground Committee. It consists of Principal Melody Troy, Fourth Grade Teacher Alison Zylstra, and school community members Val Magarian, Brenna Warren, Anna Maynard, Kim Clark and Mary Beth Monahan.
The committee was formed about a year and a half ago and meetings started being held in the fall, according to committee member Clark. At last week's meeting, Maynard stated that $6,600 has been raised so far through a GoFundMe page, individual donations, bottle returns at Willy's Variety, Pastapalooza & Dessert Auction, letters to the community and a coin change event. The committee desires a total of $140,000.
"It sounds like there's obviously a lot of community support behind this considering how many different sources have been donating to this," Board Member Melanie Virgilio said in the meeting. "Which is nice to hear, specifically because it's not just the school but people all around who are supporting this and I appreciate that effort."
In the first week of fundraising, the committee received $157.50, according to the April 27 meeting agenda.
New England Recreation Group was chosen to build the set in two months at $133,170 with a 50 percent deposit ahead of time. With talk about funds available, the school board decided to add the item to the next meeting's agenda for voting. According to the meeting's minutes, the Impact Aid Funds could be utilized to fill the committee's remaining funding needs. Maynard said June 1 is the latest date to commit to the project.
Maynard mentioned that Casella Waste Management offered to remove the existing structure at no cost, and Damien Cassan will extract wood chips and lay cement in place. The yellow slide will be replaced while other structures will remain. New swings will replace the current ones outside of the footprint.
Clark said she estimated the project's cost by considering the school's population of roughly 84 students, the incoming September class of 16, and surrounding home school students.
"The population has almost doubled in the last 10 years and the equipment we have is out of date and broken and not enough for the students now," Clark told the Banner last week. "I brought it to my own attention and noticed there was a need for it even before my children went there, [to school] and that it was in need of updates and improvement."
Recycled material will be used to frame the footprint. A nine foot tree house, slides and boulder circuit is what the new set will be customized with to amplify a nature atmosphere, as if one is playing in a forest.
"It is so important for the children of Sunderland (and surrounding areas) to have safe places to play," Principal Melody Troy said. "Some of the equipment definitely shows wear and tear of 10 years of use. We are replacing one slide that is a safety issue and the swings are worn and need replacing."
The next school board meeting is on May 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the school library at 98 Bear Ridge Rd. in Sunderland.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.