(09/06/2002)
No action was taken on the site selection of a playground for Middle School students at the Mt. Zion campus. The lack of a playground for 370 students has become a contentious issue with some parents and members of the Playground Committee of the Local School Improvement Council (LSIC).

Calhoun school Superintendent Ron Blankenship asked the group to return to the Mt. Zion complex at last month's board meeting and look for alternative sites.

The board did approve a site for a playground at the north end of the school last fall, but some LSIC members and parents believe it is not the best location. The Playground Committee says that location is much smaller, has sloping ground, and needs fill dirt and fencing.

LSIC Playground Committee reported "It is the consensus of this committee that the area between the practice field and the baseball field remains the best alternative," a location apparently opposed by school administrators.

The playground issue has come before the board several times, with Blankenship and some other board members not favoring any of the suggested sites. The playground was not part of the architect's drawing for the complex, and fitting the playground has become difficult after the fact.

Judy Kerns, a sixth grade Middle School teacher, used the Playground Report to address concerns relating to distance and safety issues, stating she understood the area had been designated for a batting cage. She said the batting cage could be placed to the side in another area.

The location of the playground between the practice field and baseball field "meets the needs of 370 students versus approximately 20 students (using the batting cage), it shouldn't be a question."

Kerns said "Students really need playground time. They've pretty much been in the parking lot since the school opened."

The LSIC recently received a $10,000 Budget Digest grant to help with playground construction, and the Playground Committee says they have a volunteer who will provide the cement needed for equipment installation, pipe and pipe welding.

The Playground Committee report said "It is disappointing to think the playground goal has not been achieved...We look forward to the day when the dangers of running around cars is over."

The Playground Committee Report says "When one considers the vast amount of money that has been put into the football field, and other fields, it is time to do something for the younger students."

Other than initial site preperation of the sport's complex, including the lighting, all the work on the sports fields has been done by volunteers, underwritten by community fund raising by the Calhoun County Althletic Complex Committee and others. Thousands of volunteer hours have been devoted to the project.

The presentation before the school board Monday evening was done by the Playground Committee. A meeting of the Local School Improvement Council is expected to review the situation latter this month.


Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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