Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles highlighting projects funded through a $194 million bond issue approved by Yukon Public Schools’ voters in November 2021.
By Conrad Dudderar
Students at two Yukon elementary schools will be jumping for joy – literally – when they return to school on Thursday, Aug. 11.
That’s because new school playground equipment and artificial turf were installed this summer at Skyview Elementary, 650 S Yukon Parkway; and Ranchwood Elementary, 607 Annawood.
These are the first two elementary (pre-kindergarten through third grade) schools to receive playground upgrades from Yukon Public Schools’ 2021 bond issue approved by voters.
“Those are our two new ones – at Skyview and Ranchwood,” YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said. “That followed up with the ones we had finished prior at Independence and Lakeview (intermediate). All those have turf now.”
The new playgrounds cost about $200,000 each and were provided by Happy Playground LLC.
Skyview and Ranchwood had the oldest playgrounds and greatest need for replacement among Yukon’s elementary sites.
The other five YPS elementary schools also will get new playground equipment paid for with bond funds. Two or three more sites are expected to be done in summer 2023.
“They all need to be updated, and that’s why we had it on the bond issue,” Simeroth explained.
GET THE BLOOD FLOWING
Having access to the latest and best playground equipment outside helps students in pre-K through third grade focus on academics inside the classroom.
“Kids at that grade level have to ‘burn off’ some of that youthful energy,” Simeroth noted. “They need the opportunity to get out there, exercise and get the blood flowing.”
This week, Yukon’s school chief inspected Skyview’s completed playground project.
He was impressed how contractor crews incorporated some existing, older equipment with the new playground and a giant turf area for children to play.
Having a turf surface – instead of dirt or mulch – is more than a safety feature.
“The kids won’t have to be trapped inside because it’s rained and there’s a ‘mud pit’,” Simeroth said. “Five minutes after the rain stops, they can be out there on the turf.”
Some projects funded through bond issues – like new busses and security cameras – often go unnoticed.
But each new school playground is something tangible that YPS patrons can see and enjoy with their children, Dr. Simeroth emphasized.
“If people want to play on them, it’s part of the community – it’s theirs,” he said. “Make use of it.”
Yukon’s superintendent credited Lance Haggard, YPS’ executive director of elementary education, for his efforts to ensure the new playground projects are finished before school starts.