SCASD is currently considering how to improve playgrounds district-wide through a master planning process. The most current information was presented to the Board of Directos on June 3. The updated information is presented below:
Metcalfe Architecture & Design, LLC presented the final master planning document taking into consideration all previous refinements.
The above document has been divided below due to its large size.
Three Proposed Playgrounds for Fall of 2019
At our Facilities and Grounds Committee meeting on June 6, the district administration will bring forth detailed proposals for the current elementary schools that are under construction: Corl Street, Radio Park, and Spring Creek. These proposals will combine aspects of Metcalfe’s design with some of our existing equipment. Each will take into consideration the input received from our students, faculty and staff, and community through evening forums, a survey, a community input form, and PTSO meetings.
Due to the Corl Street, Radio Park and Spring Creek projects drawing to a close, updating these playgrounds is our immediate priority. As a part of the master planning process, playground proposals for the remaining elementary schools, as well as Mount Nittany, Park Forest and Delta middle schools, will be brought forward following the completion of the initial projects. Although the Delta school is currently undergoing a construction project at this time as well, design for this playground will occur following the location assignment of the HEARTS program in order to develop the appropriate scope.
Our overall intent is to install comparable playgrounds at each of our elementary and middle schools for improved play experiences and, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, increased accessibility for our students with physical disabilities. Previously, our playgrounds were developed in a site-based manner rather than with a district-wide lens.
For your reference, we have attached the results of our Community Input Form about our playground master planning website.
Common themes derived from the input form include:
- The need for all-weather access which avoid wet and muddy areas of natural elements
- Questions concerning maintenance of the natural areas
- A lack of traditional playground elements
- A desire for more climbing equipment
- The need for a continuous walkway or track for school events
- A need to be aware of sight lines for supervision
- Dedicated open space for games including soccer, kickball, tag, and football
- Concerns about the tunnels
- Ensuring basketball hoops are included
- Concerns about the high cost of the initial concepts from Metcalfe
The master planning process assessed the condition of current equipment, identifying structures that could be retained. We intend to incorporate these traditional structures into our proposals. This is consistent with stakeholder feedback and will help us integrate our current equipment with additions recommended by the master planning process. Additionally, this ensures we are maximizing the district’s resources with our comprehensive playground proposals.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) Accessibility Standards
Metcalfe’s recent audit of our playground facilities noted ADA accessibility as a concern. According to Access Board, certain percentages of playgrounds should be accessible to students with physical disabilities. Our goal is to follow such guidelines within each of our playground proposals.
On June 13, during our Board Finance Committee meeting, we will present the committee with a financial report that includes an overall budget for district-wide playground updates. This proposal will also include a report regarding how this proposal impacts future facility planning.
The initial designs from Metcalfe and refinements are high-level concepts that do not take financial constraints into account. The intent was to provide a wide array of options for review. Currently, we are reflecting on Metcalfe’s design options, with the goal of balancing costs with community feedback to develop comparable, engaging and accessible playgrounds at each elementary and middle school. Accessibility is a significant cost driver in the design concepts. The average cost in Metcalfe’s initial and refined presentations was approximately $500,000 per playground; however, these were not proposals to our Board, nor did these include substantial reuse of existing equipment. Previously, our existing playgrounds cost in the $75,000 range, which included PTO contributions.* Additionally, our previous costs didn’t include site preparation and equipment installation. We expect to spend more on these new playgrounds than in previous years under the current plan, which will be funded from our capital financing plan. Proposal estimates will also include annual maintenance costs. Development of the financing plan continues to evolve, and the plan will be presented to the Board in early June.
Metcalfe has suggested options for phasing the projects, in an effort to spread the cost of the projects over a period of time. Following final review and approval of the master plan, project design will commence, leading to playground implementation which is expected to include retaining or in some places reinstalling certain equipment.
*We are currently exploring how community support could help with funding playgrounds.