KINGSPORT — Kennedy Elementary School in the Lynn Garden community is set to get a new community playground costing more than $300,000 in time for next school year, thanks to Board of Education funding and some fundraising at the school.
Pending Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval, the only question is whether the playground will have all “poured-in-place” surfaces or a less expensive mixture of that in main areas and engineered wood product mulch in others.
The BOE Tuesday night voted 4-0, with President Carrie Upshaw absent, to approve $432,528 total for the project, including an extra $84,164 to cover the poured-in-place surfaces everywhere on the playground. Otherwise, the project would be $348,364, Chief Finance Officer David Frye told the board. Either way, $45,210 raised at the school will go toward the new playground.
The final decision is to come during a called meeting the same night as the Feb. 26 BOE work session. By then, per the request of board member Eric Hyche and Vice President Todd Golden, Frye is to present information about how much maintenance of the partial mulch solution would cost versus paying more up-front for the poured-in-place material, a rubber substance school system officials said really is put in place in layers rather than literally poured.
Frye said he was more comfortable moving forward with getting first and second readings by the BMA in February and early March than delaying approval, which could push the project completion past the start of school in August. The board tabled action on a resolution giving the low bid to Armstrong Construction Company Inc., the recommended low bidder by Barge Design Solutions to install items from Playworld, a bid to be awarded Feb. 26.
Kennedy Principal Janice Irvin, asked to addressed the BOE on the matter, said she is overjoyed the board is considering the all poured-in-place surface because a kindergarten student at the school this year is in a wheelchair.
“There isn’t a proper playground for miles and miles,” Irvin told the board, adding that signs would promote the project as a Lynn Garden Community Playground and that birthday parties and other events would be welcome there. “It would be amazing to have all of it” with the poured-in-place surface.
That’s the same surface used in the small playground at the Kingsport Carousel and what is to be used on part of a community playground called The Castle of Kingsport to be constructed during a community build at Johnson Elementary March 5-10.
Irvin said custodians would have to do sweeping and racking to keep the minimum six inches of mulch on the playground surface, which she said is required of school playgrounds.
In other action, the board voted 4-0 to change the Kingsport City Schools Hall of Fame bylaws to specify a period of years instead of exact years for the three different periods in which retirees are eligible. The Legacy category would be 50 years or more ago instead of pre-1960, Tradition 25-49 years instead of 1960-90 and the Modern Era less than 25 years instead of 1991 forward. The change allows the program entering its fifth year to give more people a chance to be inducted since each category is limited to two per year. Sixteen people have been inducted over the past four years.