AUTHOR: MONIQU

HED:School Board to consider $80,000 for Church Street project

By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

Church Street Elementary's Parent Teacher Association asked the Tupelo School Board Tuesday to approve a request for $80,000 to fund a playground project.

The total cost of the project is expected to be about $117,000, with the school's PTA expected to raise or write grant requests for the remaining $37,000.

The board agreed to take the proposal under consideration.

The project would include the rebuilding of several hill terraces located between the school and the playground. The plan also calls for the construction of new retaining walls and drainage work and landscaping.

An outdoor learning area would also be constructed as part of the proposal. The outdoor learning area would include an amphitheater-style layout, with benches and a stage. A greenhouse would also be located in the area, and an parcel of land would be set aside for student planting projects.

The proposal also calls for the construction of new steps in the area leading from the school to the playground.

"Right now, it's a straight shot down those steps," PTA representative Steve Ludt said of the long line of wide, wooden steps. "It's a straight shot for kids to race down ... it's not safe at all."

Ludt said the PTA would like to begin construction on the area by late summer, with new playground equipment to be installed by fall.

The terrace work and drainage work would cost about $80,000. About $7,000 in landscaping work has been donated by a Church Street parent.

The PTA also hopes to install about $30,000 in new playground equipment which would accommodate about 80 youngsters. The current equipment serves a maximum of 25 students.

The project would also include work on the playground's surface.

School officials said the playground is currently unusable for about three days after a rain. A new surface similar to the one used at several local parks would allow the playground to be used shortly after rainfall.

The City of Tupelo has agreed to provide financial assistance to the school and to install and maintain the playground equipment because it is located next to Robbins Field, the redevelopment project that adjoins the school and includes a large public walking track.

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