Foster playground gets finishing touches as school year nears

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home School District Maintenance Department is putting the finishing touches on a new playground at Foster Elementary School this week.

The new play structure, paid for primarily through an anonymous donation, is located in the school courtyard.

“We, as a school, decided a few years ago that we needed another play structure, something for kids to do in the playground area,” said Principal Luke Augsburger. The school’s parent-teacher organization started fund-raising events to purchase it.

Lowe’s gave the school a grant, and then an anonymous donor provided the majority of the money necessary to purchase it, Augsburger said. “They cared deeply about Foster Elementary and the kids that go to Foster Elementary School, and they wanted to give back.”

Foster has an older playground in back of the school, he said. Previous Principal Glenna DeSouza, purchased the most recent piece of playground equipment, a smaller play structure, for the playground.

Foster students spend most of their recess time in the courtyard, Augsburger said, but that area has no playground equipment, just four-square courts painted on the asphalt and basketball courts.

The school sometimes runs both areas if he has enough staff, he said. The back playground is often used by the Foster community when school is not in session.

The play structure will give little ones more hands-on activity, promote fitness and burn energy, he said. “It’s really nice. It’s going to be a nice playground for our kids when it’s finished. It’s something we can kind of call our own and take care of as a community, as a school.”

Augsburger expressed appreciation for the Maintenance Department’s handling of the construction.

“We got the plans, and they took it from there,” he said.

“Josh Darwood (supervisor) and the Maintenance Department have been huge, instrumental in building the structure. It’s one of the reasons we were able to do it.”

Friday, the maintenance staffers were busy putting down rubber layers, much like the finish on the high school track. The playground surface will feature artwork, including Foster Foxes.

“Jeff (Parker) and I got a little crazy,” Darwood said about the designs.

The structure cost $35,000, Augsburger said.

The site work cost about $22,000, Darwood said. Doing all of the work in house will save the district $25,000 to $30,000.

The project is probably the biggest of the summer season, Darwood said. The Maintenance Department completed a lot of interior painting throughout the district, and it has started on bond projects, completing a lot of electrical replacements and improvements, installing HVAC controls and upgrades and replacing asbestos tile at Oak Heights.

Not a part of the bond, the crew also re-roofed the metal shop at Sweet Home High School and using grant funds, added a 16-foot by 60-foot overhang for storage, Darwood said.