Plans finalized for $84K playground improvements at Hearnes Elementary

Hearnes Elem. to get new playground

CHARLESTON, Mo. (KFVS) - Warren E. Hearnes Elementary School will soon receive new playground equipment, including some pieces that are inclusive.

The project is possible because of a grant from the Mississippi County SB40 Board, as well as the CDC Healthy Schools Grant and local funding.

According to the school district, a large, inclusive play-place will be installed to the west of Pod E on the upper elementary playground. It will have a ramp, climbers, slides, tunnels, shaded sections, a tilted rock challenge wall and more.

It will also feature educational panels with the braille alphabet, “Simon says,” clocks, a store front and safety.

The upper playground will also have a large obstacle course with a balance beam, parallel bars, a worm climber, vertical chain net and more.

This will all be available to both elementary and middle school students.

On the lower elementary playground, several items will be added including seesaws, a “hoopla” climber, spinners and rainbow music makers. Two large awnings will be added for shade.

The lower playground will also get an obstacle course, complete with a small climbing wall, stepping stones, a “hoop alley” and fun wheels.

“We are honestly putting something in that is for all students, and that’s all we try every day. That’s why we are here,” said Principal Adam Grindstaff.

“I am looking forward to the kids seeing the new equipment for the first time,” says Amy Brown, special programs director, who has spearheaded the project. “Some of our playground equipment has been in use since before I was in school at WEH. Our playgrounds are long overdue for an update and we are overjoyed to have the opportunity to do so.”

For Principal Grindstaff, it’s all about his students.

“It’s kid-centered, it’s kid-first,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, and as long as schools do that then we are going to build a good future for our kids.”

After learning about the grant in December from board members, Brown began working with Hearnes Elementary administrators and others to come up with a plan.

The team surveyed teachers, discussed playground designs and consulted with All-Inclusive Recreation of Farmington. They also worked with Lead Nurse Julie Burke to secure funding through the CDC Healthy Schools Grant.

Bobby McKenzie, director of maintenance and transportation, was brought in to discuss installation when the equipment was delivered in mid-April.

At the January meeting, the Charleston R-I School Board reviewed the plans and gave approval to pursue the grant opportunity. The SB40 grant was officially awarded in early February, and final approval for the equipment purchase was given by the Board of Education during the February meeting.

In total, the project will cost an estimated $84,573.65, of which $72,000 will come from the SB40 Board, $5,000 from the CDC grant, $3,373.65 from the CARES Act and about $4,200 in labor costs covered by district funds.

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