The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is moving ahead with upgrading 12 elementary school playgrounds in 2018 that will cost more nearly $3.7 million.

BCSC school board members on Monday unanimously approved an initial bid from Maxwell Construction Co. totaling $3.53 million for playground improvements at 11 elementary schools — the R.L. Johnson Education Center, Mt. Healthy, Southside, Clifty Creek, CSA — Fodrea, Schmitt, Rockcreek, Taylorsville, Richards, Smith and Parkside. The district 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.

A change order also was approved by the board for the 11 playground projects, dropping the total price to $3.07 million.

Separately, the school board awarded a $710,000 contract to J.C. Ripberger for improvements at CSA — Lincoln, known as the Linden Project, modeled off an original concept for a playground in 1966 that never materialized. The board also approved a change order, dropping the total contract price to $614,000. The playground project’s name was selected as a tribute to architect Gunnar Birkerts, who designed the school in 1967, and included Linden trees in the proposal.

Funding for the Linden Project includes 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.

Features include playground equipment, outdoor classrooms, sculptural benches, green space and the Joe Brown Globe, a wooden climbing structure modeled to look like a globe. The upgrades at CSA — Lincoln are expected to begin in the spring with a targeted summer completion date, according to the district.

The 11 other playground projects throughout the district will be done in a series of phases, Superintendent Jim Roberts said.

The only BCSC elementary school not included in the district’s plans is Parkside, whose handicap-accessible Freedom Field playground is overseen by the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department.

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