HYDE – At last night’s meeting, the Clearfield school board approved an elementary playgrounds project at the Clearfield Area Elementary School and natatorium improvements at the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School.
Beginning this upcoming academic year, the district will consist of two school buildings. The CAES campus will house kindergarten through sixth grade students; the CAJSHS campus will house seventh through 12th grade students.
Superintendent Terry Struble displayed designs for three, different playground areas at the CAES campus. He said there would be two, different playground areas for students in kindergarten through the third grade.
According to him, there would be a K-3 playground area at each wing of the school. Each playground area, he said, would offer a different mix of activities, including “ground level activities” accessible to all students.
The K-3 playground areas, he said, would be fenced in. When asked by board member Tim Morgan, he said the fence surrounding the playground areas would be four feet tall, and outsiders would have to go over top or use other means to get inside it.
Also, Struble said students in the fourth through sixth grade would have a playground area at the softball field at the school. He said these students would have activities that better suited their grade level.
Board member Gail Ralston asked if the playground area for the older students would permit for its use as a ball field, as well as other activities. Struble said the layout hadn’t been finalized yet, but if necessary, they would level out brush to expand the available playground area.
Struble estimated the creation and installation of the three elementary playgrounds would cost about $113,000. However, he wanted the board to approve for the use of up to $135,000 in elementary construction funds.
Given the cost involved, Ralston asked if the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) would be approached to contribute to the elementary playgrounds project. Struble said he’s already approached the PTO about helping out with either funds or volunteers. The PTO, Struble said, planned to explore possible ways it could contribute to the elementary playgrounds project.
Board President Mary Anne Jackson said before taking the vote, she would permit board members to review the displayed playground designs. However, during the regular meeting, Jackson stopped the vote on building-related agenda items, as she’d forgotten to permit board members to review the playground designs.
At that point, Jackson permitted board members to review the playground designs displayed on a table nearby. When board members returned, Jackson announced the board would take the vote over and separate the elementary school playgrounds project from the other buildings-related agenda items.
Both board members Dr. Michael Spencer and Ralston indicated they had some safety concerns. In addition, Ralston said she “wished” for more for the older students. Struble said so far as the fourth- through sixth-grade students, the idea was for them to engage in “old-fashioned play,” such as kick ball.
The board approved the elementary playgrounds project by a 6-2 vote. Board members Susan Mikesell, Jackson, Larry Putt, Morgan, Rod Rishel and Phil Carr voted in favor. Ralston and Spencer opposed the same. Board member Jennifer Wallace was absent from the meeting.
Struble also presented the lowest bid for the natatorium improvements for approval. He said the lowest bidder was J.C. Orr & Son Inc. with a total general construction amount of $269,677, which didn’t include an alternate bid for replacing the glass railing in the natatorium.
According to Struble, the district had $200,000 allocated for the natatorium improvements in its capital budget. He said there were drainage and acoustical problems not addressed during the high school construction project, which is why they’re still on the table for approval.
When asked, Struble explained the natatorium’s glass railing met 1970’s standards. If they had done anything to disturb the railing during the high school construction project, it wouldn’t any longer meet code because the required heights are now higher.
Struble said it would be an additional $35,000 to take off and replace the glass railing. Spencer said the district used to have someone observing the spectators near the railing during swim meets in order to prevent accidents, but he wasn’t sure if this was still a part of procedures.
Ralston asked how the cost of the natatorium improvements would impact the district’s budget with a $100,000 overage. Struble said the district would look for ways to re-work its capital budget, which could mean lowering the caps on funding available to other projects or postponing them until next year.
After discussion the board voted 8-0 to go ahead with the natatorium improvements, including the replacement of the glass railing.