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Board gives $55,000 boost to playground

News editor

Proposed playground renovations for Hillsboro Elementary School moved a step closer to reality Monday as the board of education allocated $55,000 toward fixing safety, drainage, and cosmetic problems with the school’s three play yards.

The funds will match a Kansas Department of Health and Environment grant the district will apply for, but combining those with money from fundraising and a manufacturer’s grant, the project remains short of the $185,000 needed.

“Right now we’re estimating that we’re still looking for around $30,000,” HES playground committee chair Erin Beavers said.

Board member Kim Klein asked Superintendent Steve Noble to clarify how $55,000 taken from the district’s capital outlay fund relates to the total budget.

“The capital outlay fund is specified only for use for equipment and facilities,” Noble said. “It cannot be used for personnel or salaries; those come out of the operations fund, a separate fund.”

The recent sale of property at the north end of Hillsboro will keep the capital outlay fund from being depleted by the allocation, Noble said.

“That land closed for around $55,000, so that’s additional capital outlay revenue the board can use,” he said. “That’s why that number was put into consideration.”

Noble told the board that having the financing and cost cap in place for the project may open options for more fundraising.

“I think there are some people that want to help us close the deal that are out there,” Noble said.

The board approved a recommendation from Beavers to use Athco, a Lenexa firm, and its partner Landscape Structures as builders for the playground. Beavers said her committee visited playgrounds constructed by three vendors before settling on Athco.

The middle playground at the school has been cleared of structures by volunteers and will be turned into a courtyard, Beavers said. Volunteers will be used for cost-savings on other portions of the project as it unfolds, and some pieces of equipment will be re-used.

A new cushioned surface designed to minimize injuries is planned for the north playground, where older children play, Beavers said. In order to put in the concrete underlayment for the surface, the old equipment would be removed and new structures installed.

In other business:

  • Ashlee Gann, director of Families and Communities Together, presented countywide results of the Communities That Care student surveys to assess the use of harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Marion County has lower rates of use than state averages in many areas, but Gann said the results point to the need to continue to combat substance abuse.
  • A fuel contract with Cooperative Grain and Supply was approved, locking in gas and diesel prices for the remainder of the school year. Noble said the measure will save about $10,000.
  • Resignations were accepted from Ronda Wiens, HHS/HMS custodian, and Lance Sawyer, HHS assistant boys basketball coach. Sara Bennett was hired to replace Wiens, and Sawyer was given a supplemental contract as assistant coach for the middle school boys basketball team. Nick Talbott was approved as head coach of HMS wrestling, and will be assistant coach for high school wrestling.

Last modified Nov. 13, 2014

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