Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vinland Elementary School to get recycled playground surface

July 23, 2008

Students, teachers and staff at Vinland Elementary School are about to get a 35-ton lesson in recycling.

That's the combined weight of a new environmentally sensitive playground surface to be installed at the school during the next month or two, thanks in part to a $10,000 grant announced Wednesday by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The new surface - comprised of shreds from old, recycled tires - will replace the existing surface of decomposing wood chips, which already had been targeted for replacement by the end of this year.

The Baldwin School District had planned to spend about $6,000 for a new load of wood chips, but the state's $10,000 grant now justifies a larger, more sensible investment, Supt. Paul Dorathy said.

The district plans to order a $24,000 load of tire shreds through ABCreative, a De Soto-based company whose product will cover the playground's 5,400-square feet with a layer of long-lasting rubber 6 inches deep.

Buying a shredded-tire surface would have cost too much for the district on its own, Dorathy said, but the state grant will reduce the district's investment to a more manageable $14,000 - especially considering that the district would have been spending $6,000 every two or three years to replace wood chips, anyway.

"If you look at it long range, we're talking about stuff that can go in there and pretty much be indestructible," Dorathy said. "It will last longer and be safer for kids, because it has more cushion to it. : It holds its value."

The grant is among 61 going to school districts and cities statewide, using proceeds from a 25-cent fee charged on the purchase of each new tire in Kansas. Combined, this year's grants amount to nearly $700,000.

Before last year, proceeds from the fee were used to help tire processors buy equipment to help turn old tires into usable raw materials, such as tire shreds for playgrounds.

"These efforts have the added benefits of conserving landfill space, encouraging recycling and reducing waste - along with the need for new waste facilities," said Rod Bremby, the state's secretary of health and environment, in a statement. "This program is definitely a 'win-win' for Kansas."

The school district still needs two or three weeks to secure details about the grant before buying the tire shreds, said Cynde Frick, the district's director of financial operations. Officials also have yet to decide on a color - likely either brown or a more reddish shade, but possibly something else - before moving ahead.

But the school's 95 students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, soon will be getting a newer, softer surface beneath their feet as they slide, swing and climb at the playground north of Baldwin City.

"It has become a safety issue," Frick said. "We have to do something."

Dorathy said that the project also would serve as a recycling lesson for students and continue the district's efforts to be good stewards of the Earth.

"It's another way that our district is trying to help to go green and help with the environment," he said.

While the playground surface will be a first for the district, Dorathy said, it may not be the last. Marion Springs Elementary School will be considered for such a project once results from the Vinland project are reviewed.

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