Recess Without A Playground
Connerton seeks community support to build two playgrounds.
It’s a time-honored tradition that youngsters in elementary schools all across the country enjoy on a regular basis: recess on the playground.
At Connerton Elementary School, however, the playground is missing.
Like most schools in Pasco County, Connerton, 9300 Flourish Dr., opened its doors without a playground on campus. The district cannot afford to pay the full price, but does contribute $15,000 to each new school’s playground fund. Connerton opened to students at the start of the 2010-11 school year.
School budget cuts aside, not fully funding playgrounds has been a long-standing district policy, said Summer Romagnoli, the district’s spokeswoman.
“Our district has always only contributed up to $15,000 in matching funds,” she wrote in an email. “The playground is not considered a necessity under the state’s School Requirement for Educational Facilities (SREF). The SREF standard is our guide when building our new schools. Therefore, we ask the community and family members to contribute toward the purchase of this non-essential equipment.”
That asking has been going on since school started and Connerton is almost half way to its goal of $100,000, said Wendy Carswell, assistant principal.
The school’s target fundraising amount is so high because the desire is to build two playgrounds – a standard one and another for Exceptional Student Education pupils, Carswell said.
So far, Connerton has raised about $40,000 with the $15,000 from the district included, she said. The recent Champion Day Carnival alone brought in about $4,500 for the project.
“We’re feverishly raising money every way we can,” she said.
According to Carswell, students, parents and community members have come together for the cause. Students, for example, collected pennies and filled up jugs. Other events have been held throughout the year, as well.
The upshot of having to raise money for the playgrounds, Carswell said, is being able to bring the new school community together for a common cause.
“We’ve really worked very hard to develop a sense of community,” she said.
Parents and community members are also taking part in an upcoming golf tournament to raise more money. That event is set for May 15 at 12:30 p.m. at The Groves Golf & Country Club.
Still a month away, the golf tournament has room for golfers and additional sponsors. Sponsorship levels range from $75 to $300. The cost is play is $45 for an individual and $180 for a foursome. For more information about the tournament or sponsorship, visit the school’s website at coes.pasco.k12.fl.us.
While the state doesn’t see a playground as a necessity, Carswell said it is an important feature for students.
“They just need that active engagement,” she said. Plus, the playgrounds will provide a much-needed “release of some of that energy.”
Connerton serves about 825 students and has approximately 60 in its ESE programs.
In addition to the golf tournament, the school has other fundraisers going on. It is also accepting cash donations. Donors can drop off checks at the school or mail them to 9300 Flourish Dr., Land O’ Lakes, FL 34637. Make checks payable to Connerton Elementary School and write “playground” in the memo line.
Carswell said the hope is to have at least one of the two playgrounds installed over the summer.