Washington playground fails to make the gradeAs expected, the aging playground at Washington Elementary earned a poor grade with inspectors in a report given to Cloquet School Board members on Monday.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
As expected, the aging playground at Washington Elementary earned a poor grade with inspectors in a report given to Cloquet School Board members on Monday.
“The equipment is at the end of its useful life,” said Gene Salmi, buildings and grounds director. “Liability issues are pushing me to recommend moving it all out, with the exception of the swing set.”
The news is not surprising to school officials, who realize the playground would not meet many of today’s safety standards. Inspectors found several hazards with equipment and surfacing that if left unattended could cause serious injury or death.
“Do we need to be concerned about safety there?” asked Gary Huard, school board chair.
Salmi said yes. The most deficient equipment is already off-limits to students and has been blocked so they cannot get to it. The other equipment can be used while a plan is in the works.
The Parents-in-Education group for Washington is currently raising funds for new playground equipment, which Salmi estimates will cost at least $30,000.
The playground at the high school, used for the Li’l Lumberjacks program, also has safety concerns – including the freestanding play structures, which are not recommended.
“We need to consider removing those structures and replacing them with permanent commercial play [equipment] that is compliant with the [Americans with Disabilities Act],” Salmi said.
The only major hazard found at the new Churchill Elementary playground was a spot where a child’s head could potentially become trapped. That can be quickly and easily fixed, according to Salmi.
In other Cloquet School Board business, Julie McMerty has agreed to teach speech classes at Cloquet High School during third quarter while administrators search for a qualified replacement. McMerty officially retired at the end of second semester and while Warren Peterson, Cloquet High School principal, recommended filling the position with an English teacher, school board members disagreed. Instead, they are seeking a teacher certified in speech and English, who can also oversee the extracurricular drama program, as McMerty did.
“It’s great that she agreed to step in for now,” Peterson said.