After decades of blacktop-only recess space, playground equipment is coming to Forest Park schools for the first time, the District 91 school board announced at their meeting Thursday. The success of the new play areas at the newly remodeled Betsy Ross School, 1315 S. Marengo Ave., led parents to ask, “Why not all the schools?” said Superintendent Lou Cavallo.
For generations, children have played on hard flat surfaces at Forest Park’s five elementary schools.
“We never realized until we were putting together Betsy, that none of the other schools had playgrounds,” said school board member Mary Winn Connor.
Betsy Ross School was built in the early 1900s and Garfield and Grant-White were constructed in the 1920s, Connor said.
Cavallo told the board he had been a playground advocate since he arrived in the district several years ago.
Principals at the three elementary schools have been choosing equipment they believe is best suited to their space, Cavallo said.
Nutoys Leisure Products of LaGrange submitted playground plans for three schools, but no prices were submitted to the school board for approval. The equipment will be purchased through an Illinois State Board of Education Illinois School Purchasing Network, a non-profit purchasing cooperative, Cavallo said.
The playgrounds will be built on rubberized mats instead of wood chips or rubber chips, Cavallo told the board.
Equipment includes climbing ropes and walls, swing sets and slides. Some equipment is designed to be ADA accessible. Swings will be extra low for the youngest children at Garfield School, where the preschool program started last year, Cavallo said.
The board is expected to vote to approve the playgrounds in November, and Cavallo said the work will commence right away with equipment installed before winter break, he told the board.