The Parent Teacher Organization at Woodland Elementary School in the Puyallup School District is making a concerted effort to drum up support for a financial investment in an upgraded playground.
PTO president Kellie Malcolm, who also substitutes and works in the nurse’s office at the school, said the 22-year-old playground is outdated and not adequate size to accommodate students in fourth to sixth grade.
“This coming school year there will be 300 kids from fourth, fifth and sixth grade out at one time on the playground,” Malcolm said. “The playground is great for a day care, but from third grade on up, the playground is too small for them.”
Malcolm said the deterioration of the playground really showed during the middle of last year. Several years back both the playground bridge and slide fell into disrepair. In February, Malcolm said a student came forward to her with an offering of 74 cents to help build a new playground.
In a handwritten letter to the PTO, the student wrote: “I’m bored. We need something to play on. What I don’t like is the bridge is broken, the field is muddy and it’s too crowded. I want a rock wall, zip line, volleyball, merry-go-round. I appreciate you considering my playground upgrade for the school request.”
Malcolm said the 74 cents and the letter got the attention of the school district.
“The district repaired the bridge and replaced the slide, too,” Malcolm said.
The district has since recommended that the PTO purchase a new playground from Playgrounds Northwest.
“We wanted to make sure it was a company that the district could work with,” Malcolm said.
The cost for a new playground is $191,000, which includes fixing the drainage where the playground would be located. Malcolm said the uneven ground and poor drainage turns the current playground into a muddy mess. There are many kids who come in from the playground in muddy shoes.
The new structure includes a climbing wall and small pieces on the outside.
“We incorporated everything that kids would like and that would provide good exercise for them,” Malcolm said. “There is a four-way teeter-totter that is ADA compliant.”
The existing playground is not ADA compliant.
The Woodland PTO’s current annual budget is $29,000. This budget covers children in need, provides a $100 check at the beginning of the year for each teacher to purchase needed school supplies, has purchased exercise mats for the school gym and turkeys during Christmas as well as paid for prizes for math night and reading night and books for the library.
“We do two main fundraisers and everything over and above the $29,000 goes into our playground fund,” Malcolm explained. “We’re starting to earn for the next year. Last year, we earned for this year and this year we earn for next year.”
The Woodland PTO has sent out letters to the public soliciting funds for the playground project. The PTO is also offering an engraved brick measuring four by eight inches to anyone making a donation of $150 or more, and an engraved brick measuring eight by eight inches to anyone making a donation of $250 or more. Individuals can engrave the brick with a message of their choosing.
Malcolm said bricks will be used to pave the walkway to the playground.
Brian Fox, spokesman for the Puyallup School District, said the Woodland PTO’s effort to renew the playground is wonderful.
"We appreciate Woodland’s PTO for their willingness to improve the playground at Woodland because currently our budget does not allow for a comprehensive plan to update playgrounds throughout the 21 elementary schools," Fox explained.
So far the PTO has been able to raise several thousand dollars for the playground investment, Malcolm said.
To donate to the playground fund, Malcolm can be reached at 253-439-8726 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.