Thursday, October 6, 2022
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RSD #17 BOE Approves Construction of New Playground at KES

By Austin Mirmina.

The RSD 17 school board green-lighted the construction of a new playground at Killingworth Elementary School, voting on July 6, 2021 to allow the school’s Playground Committee to donate $75,000 to be used for installation and equipment.

“Congratulations to KES for a new playground,” Chairperson Suzanne Sack said.

The installation, which is slated as a community build project, will need to be approved by the school board’s attorney, Floyd Dugas, and the district’s insurance company before it can begin. The playground committee has chosen to work with a company called UltiPlay.

John Mercier, who is the director of operations at RSD 17, said choosing to do a community build versus a professional installation would save about $12,000-$13,000. According to Mercier, a supervisor from UltiPlay would oversee the project, with community members spending around three-or-four days digging holes, installing pipes and tubes, and putting together certain equipment like musical instruments.

Board members were thrown for a loop when Eileen Blewett said she and two other members of the Facilities sub-committee – Peter Sonski and Joanne Nesti – were unaware of the substantial savings when they recommended at a recent meeting that the playground be professionally installed. Nesti added that the sub-committee did not initially favor a community build for liability reasons, but both members later voted to go forth with construction contingent upon the necessary waivers and supervision.

KES Playground Committee member Christy Coppola said her team would still be willing to make the donation even if the board ruled out doing a community build. Coppola said the committee ultimately felt comfortable with a community build knowing there would a supervisor present.

“The $13,000 [savings] is a lot of money,” Coppola said. “If we’re able to go forward with a community build, that would be amazing. And it would definitely help us get more pieces back there for our students.”

The board considered tabling the item for a future meeting, but doing so would have significantly delayed the playground’s already unclear completion date. Sack eventually coaxed the rest of the members into accepting the donation based upon contingencies, saying the board would do whatever it needed to mitigate risk.

“I think the key question is how comfortable is the board with a community build and any implications associated with anybody who gets injured on the playground sometime down the line,” Sack said.

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