PTO will try to get new playground equipment for Preston school

Preston - Members of the Preston Veterans' Memorial School PTO have taken on the task of getting a new set of playground equipment for students in second through fifth grade after the Board of Education vowed not to seek new funding for the project from the town for the next five years.

The group has made presentations in recent weeks to the boards of selectmen, finance and education, and now will make the rounds again after the Board of Education Monday asked for more specific plans it could formally endorse. The finance board had told the group to scale back its original plan that would have cost $200,000.

PTO member Melissa Lennon presented several options to the school board Monday that called for a playground set with a double slide and other climbing equipment, but the major cost factor is whether to use a poured rubber mat surface or traditional playground woodchips.

The cost also could be reduced if the town agrees to do a "community build," in which the playground manufacturer would provide an on-site engineer, but volunteers from Preston would assemble the set.

The various options presented Monday ranged in cost from $79,000 to $140,000, including the $3,000 for the on-site engineer. The rubber mat could be divided into thirds, each adding $20,000 to the cost verses the price of woodchips.

The group was asked to return to the April 14 Board of Education meeting for a formal endorsement. The group then would present that endorsement to the Board of Finance on April 21.

PTO President Danette Dykema said the group is hoping the town agrees to fund the playground set for second to fifth graders - as voters two years ago approved $90,000 for a playground set for younger students at the school.

School officials demolished the previous aging playground, citing splinter issues and other safety hazards.

c.bessette@theday.com

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