Next Steps in our Playground Project

At last night's PTO meeting, the PTO reviewed the results of the playground survey. (This survey was distributed via backpack mail, the PTO e-mail news blast, at an Emerson staff meeting and was available for download on the PTO website.)

The top 3 choices for teachers were:

1) playground toys storage

2) new sensory/auditory equipment (e.g., musical instruments, sensory panels)

3) swings

The top 3 choices for families were:

1) swings

2) playground toys storage

3) new freestanding equipment (e.g., omni spin, wee-saw, roller table)

The top 3 choices when you combine the families and teachers were:

1) swings

2) playground toys storage

3) improvements to the field/addressing water/drainage issues

For anyone who would like to see the full results of the survey, please contact us, and we would be happy to provide a copy of the full results.

Using the survey results as a springboard, the PTO approved the below phased plan for making improvements to our playground:

  • Playground Toys Storage (the PTO authorized spending up to $1000 on a shed, that meets District criteria, yet this spring)

We are so pleased to be in a financial position to take care of the teachers' top choice and families' second choice yet this school year! The kids will be able to have quicker access to balls, jump ropes, etc., and they will no longer need to be stored on the school stage.

Phase 1 (timeline through the ‘14-’15 school year)

  • Install Swings $5000 (need to work closely with the District and playground equipment vendor to determine an appropriate/accessible location – the quoted 6 slot swings requires a 48' x 32' area)

  • Install 2 new pieces of freestanding equipment ~$13,000 (looking for one of the new freestanding pieces of equipment to be sensory in nature (e.g., musical instruments) with certain grants being targeted as the funding source)

  • Address drainage/water problems/Create an accessible path to allow access to new playground equipment ~$15000

  • Solicit donations for additional trees/items to provide more opportunities for shade

Phase 2 (timeline ’15-’16 school year and beyond)

  • Adding a new inclusive playground addition to the existing playground structure closest to the school ~$75,000

The above are the approved goals for the project. They are contingent on fundraising and subequent PTO approval on specific expenditures.

Next Steps

The work going forward will be divided into 2 groups.

1) Planning

  • consulting with landscaping firms to determine solutions and the cost of addressing drainage/water problems (yet this spring);

  • work on creating a master location plan (i.e., determine appropriate locations for any new items and assess the need for moving existing items) (spring through summer 2014);

  • work with Gerber Leisure, the playground equipment vendor, and the District to ensure we are following necessary procedures and approvals (on-going).

2) Fundraising/Grant Writing

  • Identify grant and donor opportunities

  • Writing/Reviewing grant applications

  • Work on fundraisers

  • Work closely with PTO as this project relates to the rest of the PTO’s overall budget

If you would like to get involved with either of these two work groups (or both), please contact us.

We are so excited about the progress to date. Again, we know this is an ambitious project that will require financial partnerships outside of the Emerson community. But we are confident that working together, we can make this dream of a more inclusive and accessible playground a reality.


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2421 E. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53704

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