Education

School playgrounds in State College are getting an update. What should they look like?

Second graders play on the playground at Easterly Parkway Elementary on Jan. 16.
Second graders play on the playground at Easterly Parkway Elementary on Jan. 16. adrey@centredaily.com

Elementary school playgrounds in the State College Area School District are getting an update — and parents, students and community members have the opportunity to be a part of that process.

SCASD is collaborating with Metcalfe Architecture and Design, an architectural firm in Philadelphia, which conducted a survey of each of the eight elementary school playgrounds and evaluated the safety of the current playground equipment in October.

The three schools currently under construction — Corl Street, Radio Park and Spring Creek elementary schools — will get playground updates by the start of the 2019-2020 school year, according to a memo from district administration.

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Second graders Zane Guggenburger and Luke Revis climb on the jungle gym on the playground at Easterly Parkway Elementary on Jan. 16. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

But the district is working on creating a playground master plan for all elementary schools with the Playground Master Planning Task Force and Metcalfe Design.

At a planning meeting last week, the task force of 45 parents, faculty, staff, school board members and others discussed the trajectory of the master plan and how the district would collect input from the community.

Task force members talked about “what play is, the different types of play and actually engaging ... in what your favorite play memories are,” Assistant Superintendent Vernon Bock said Monday night at the SCASD Board of Directors meeting.

Metcalfe will use survey responses from parents of kindergarten through fifth-grade students and drawings of playgrounds from students K-5 to start generating the master plan for the playground process.

So far, Metcalfe has collected around 3,000 completed graphic organizers from students K-5.

Board member Scott Fozard said it would be important to keep cost in mind for the master plan update, without introducing it too early and compromising the creative planning process.

Several other opportunities to get involved in the process will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks, Bock said.

The district is looking at partnering two elementary schools each for four community outreach meetings where “folks can respond to initial (playground) designs from Metcalfe,” said Bock.

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