Lakeside Playground Update
While it may seem like simply fun and games, the Lakeside playground plays a critical role in small and large motor skills development which is vital to the brain and body growth of our children. With the unexpected loss of the main play structure this summer due to safety concerns, the school administration decided to bump the new playground up on our list of priorities. Thanks to generous donations from our parents and conservative spending by both PTA and Foundation before merging together this summer, the Foundation board was able to approve funding and give the administration the go ahead for Phase 1 of the playground.
Lakeside Playground Story
As many of you know, the main play structure at Lakeside was determined to be unsafe and had to be removed this summer.
The good news is that planning for a new playground was well underway. The original plan for playground improvement involved dedicated fundraising, separate from the main Foundation budget with the removal and replacement of the existing play structure at some point in the next few years.
The early removal of the play structure has raised the level of urgency for the playground plan. The Lakeside administration and Foundation Board decided during our annual planning process that playground improvement should take higher priority in our budgeting for the year.
After a careful review of our finances after the merger Foundation and PTA, we have determined that Foundation will be able to fund this year’s regular programs as well as phase 1 of the new playground plan, while continuing fundraising for later phases.
Foundation thanks our parents and community for their donations that have enabled us to fund the first phase on the new Lakeside playground a year earlier than was originally planned.
When did Lakeside determine a new playground may be needed?
Over the past several years, the Lakeside Elementary District LCAP survey raised concerns of some Lakeside parents regarding the safety of the Lakeside Playground. Parents provided feedback feeling the playground’s days were numbered and that the school should be proactive looking towards creating a safer space. The Lakeside School District Board in Fall of 2015 asked parent volunteers to form a Playground committee in order to proactively face the challenge.
Why did the existing play structure need to come down?
Unfortunately, due to decay and rot, the Playground structure came down a lot sooner than anyone expected. Foundation quickly voted to approve an ask from the Lakeside District for monies to redo the blacktop while we raise money for the Playground.
How did you decide on what to include in the playground structure?
The playground committee started by determining 6 key components that they hoped to see in our new playground: 1) Facilitates imaginary play, 2) Stimulates sensory development, 3) Encourages collaborative play, 4) Fosters development of physical strength, endurance balance and coordination 5) Fits into our natural environment and 6) Is unusual (not your cookie cutter playground from the parks in town).
The Playground Committee collected bids and created a design that they felt met their established criteria for the children at Lakeside. They sought extensive student feedback, parent and teacher surveys, along with a board meeting presentation for public review to help with their designs. Based on this feedback, they were able to choose the winning bid for the New Lakeside Playground. Fundraising began shortly after the passing of Measure A in the hopes of getting a new structure by Summer 2018.
Isn’t there a cheaper option?
This is the cheapest bid received. Other bids were upwards of at least $180,000 vs. the current one.
Can’t we just build our own playground structure?
No, not with strict state regulations and requirements; schools cannot build their own. In order to get around the lengthy and costly permit process, a school can utilize a licensed and approved vendor for their playgrounds.
What about grants?
The playground committee has been searching for grants that we can apply for and will continue to search for grants for the other phases of the playground. Unfortunately we do not meet most criteria for grants directed at playgrounds.
Why do we still need to fundraise for for playground?
Yes, we still have playground fundraising efforts to accomplish moving forward, to get phases two-through-four installed. We also need volunteers. Parent volunteers can help Lakeside Elementary save $20k with just a few weekends of time and service.
While it’s a relief to have enough funds to get started, we still have a long way to go, and will continue to try to raise funds for the rest of the playground to create the best environment for our kids to play and grow.
Will we still be able to have our programs and services next year?
Yes, Foundation continues to fundraise for the normal Lakeside programs. The money used to build the Playground will not detract from our regularly scheduled programs this year. We will continue to raise money for future years of the program.
Can we just not donate any money and then skip the playground?
This is at the cost to the children’s development. Playgrounds provide small and large motor skills development that are critical to brain and body growth and development for children.
Shouldn’t Foundation save this money in case we have another funding crisis at our school?
It is the mandate of the Lakeside School Community Foundation to place its fiscal resources in the most effective areas in order to improve and expand the educational opportunities for all students at Lakeside. Even with the playground purchase, Foundation will still have enough reserves to fund programs in case of a funding crisis at our school.
What is the difference between Lakeside PTA and Lakeside School Foundation?
PTA and Foundation decided to pool our fundraising resources and stop taxing parent volunteers with two leaderships, to create one efficient, streamlined parent volunteer fundraising team. Foundation and PTA merged in June 2017 to create a more focused, fundraising parent-volunteer base. Now with all fundraising funds in one place, we are able to see just how effective we were in saving for our rainy day.