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Playground revamps underway for Madison elementaries

MADISON – Children at all elementary campuses in Madison City Schools soon will have revamped, safer playground areas.

The only caveat is Midtown Elementary School, the newest campus in MCS, that had its up-to-date, contemporary playground included during construction. “The other playgrounds will be equivalent to Midtown,” MCS Chief Operations Officer John Jones said.

The playground project has a $2.6-million price tag, which includes removal of dated equipment, site preparation and new playground pieces.

Great Southern Recreation in Murfreesboro, Tenn. won the bid for procurement of playground equipment and installation of the ‘play stations.’ Representatives from Great Southern talked to principals and parents at each school in determining the playground needs for each campus. The company also requested the enrollment at each school to help in its calculations.

Currently, crews are working at Horizon and Rainbow. Workers are slightly behind schedule because of the arctic-cold weather in December 2022 and incessant rain during January. In addition, crews are waiting for delivery of additional equipment to the sites.

“Rainbow is getting the gravel base installed now. Probably about one-half is covered in gravel. When workers finish at Horizon, they will go to Rainbow.” The project is “an overall investment to all schools,” Jones said.

Elementary schools with larger populations will have a playground with more space. Schools with a larger share of children in special education, including Columbia, Mill Creek and Rainbow, will have more stations of specialized equipment, MCS Public Relations Manager John S. Peck said.

“I am certainly grateful to our school board for their support of this project,” MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said in a recent “District Update.”

Currently, most existing playgrounds have a surface of wood chips that are enclosed by a long, rubberized perimeter. All playgrounds will receive a new, safer surface. “For example, Midtown has a two-inch rubber base, spread under the turf. It feels natural (like artificial turf) when you walk on it,” Jones said.

“The likelihood of falls causing injuries is lower with the new foundations, compared to the jagged edges of some wood chips in place now,” Jones said.

Another benefit is improved drainage. No longer will students have muddy shoes after playing outside. “It can rain and — only 15 minutes later — the kids can go out to play,” Jones said.

Currently, inclement, winter weather results in mud puddles and prohibits going outside, The new surfacing will allow students to enjoy more time outdoors.

Playgrounds will be comparable — not identical. For example, Columbia and Rainbow have larger populations and will have more playground space. In addition, some PTA groups have raised funds to install more shade cloths and benches.

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