JEFFERSON — Youngsters in the City of Jefferson may get a “sneak preview” of the new playground equipment at West and East elementary schools.
Two of the School District of Jefferson’s three elementary schools received upgrades earlier this summer. Sullivan Elementary, the remaining grade school, had a major playground upgrade in a prior year and its equipment is in good shape.
Both of the projects were worked into the 2018-19 school year budget, said Laura Peachey, director of business services for the School District of Jefferson. The total cost of the upgrades was $86,820, split evenly between the two schools. The matching play structures cost $43,410 each.
This spring proved too wet to start the project at that time, Peachey said, but work got under way early this summer and wrapped up last month.
The equipment at both schools is now open to neighborhood children to try out.
Mike Howard, principal of West Elementary School, said the new play structures were chosen based on student feedback. They are built for the upper-level students in third- through fifth-grades.
“We didn’t have a big one-piece play structure before with multiple slides and climbing equipment like the kindergarten through second-grade playground had,” Howard said.
The new equipment is sized for the older elementary kids, with longer slides and higher climbs.
On Thursday afternoon, the new playground structures already were attracting a crowd, including several students who had completed their elementary education but wanted to check out the new equipment their younger siblings and friends will be enjoying once the school year starts.
In the meantime, alongside West’s playground, work has begun on the new Pope Path, dedicated in the memory of former West teacher Nancy Pope, who died unexpectedly in the middle of the school year in 2017 from an aggressive form of cancer.
The path consists of two linked loops and will be open to students at West during recess and classroom events. In addition, it will be open to students from the adjacent middle school and high school for special activities and to community members in general outside of school hours.
On Thursday afternoon, workers from PLM Paving and Concrete of Pewaukee were laying the base gravel layer on the path, which had been dug out earlier that week.
“The ground has been dry and we were able to get in here without making a huge mess,” said Kevin Christianson, project manager with PLM.
Preliminary plans called for the initial gravel layer to be completed before school opens in September and for the final blacktop layer to be added in next summer ahead of the 2020-21 school year.
However, Christianson said that supporters of the school — including the West Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization and numerous local businesses, organizations and individuals — already had raised enough money to cover the blacktop layer.
He said that weather and conditions permitting, the blacktop layer could be completed before school starts this fall.
Christianson said that as a Jefferson alumnus, he was happy that his company was among those willing to step in to support the path.
PLM will be donating the sealcoating for the project, he said.