School work set to begin: 11 elementaries’ playgrounds will get upgrade

School playground equipment is being updated across the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., with the first improvements coming to Clifty Creek and Columbus Signature Academy — Fodrea Campus elementary schools.

New equipment and surface areas are planned at 11 of the district’s 12 elementary schools — done primarily for safety reasons, BCSC Superintendent Jim Roberts said. The only elementary school not included in the district’s plans is Parkside, whose handicap-accessible Freedom Field playground is overseen by the Colum- bus Parks and Recrea- tion Department.

The school district is spending about $200,000 to $250,000 at each playground, making all of them accessible for individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Roberts said.

School board members approved spending $6.7 million last fall to upgrade school buildings and playgrounds through general obligation bonds to be repaid over a 10-year period.

Of that amount, $2 million is being dedicated for playground upgrades.

While work at Clifty Creek and CSA-Fodrea is expected to begin this fall, new playgrounds will be installed at Rockcreek, Taylorsville, Richards, Southside and Smith elementary schools in the spring. The final three schools — R.L. Johnson Early Education Center and Mt. Healthy and Schmitt elementary schools — will get improvements starting next summer.

Feedback will be solicited from building principals about the overall design of each playground, accessible by the community members outside school hours, Roberts said.

One school playground will be far more elaborate than all of the other local elementary schools.

Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln Campus is planning a $500,000 playground next year featuring public gathering spaces and outdoor classrooms.

The Linden Project is a tribute to architect Gunnar Birkerts, who designed an original concept for a playground at the 50-year-old school that never materialized. While the school district is providing similar funding for the Lincoln playground as it is for other schools, the school’s parent-teacher organization has been working to raise the remaining monies needed, CSA Lincoln principal Brett Findley said.

The school already has $400,000 pledged for the playground, including the financial support from BCSC, a $50,000 grant from Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County and $90,000 from the Carl Marshall & Mildred Almen Reeves Foundation, Findley said.

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the playground will take place Sept. 21 during the school’s 50th anniversary celebration, Findley said.

The school district plans to seek bids this month for the playground improvements.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com