School district to replace aging playground equipment

Playgrounds in the Jefferson School District will receive a welcome facelift after the school board decided it was “good advertising” to have updated play structures.

Playgrounds, as well as surplus property maintenance and extending water lines to portable classrooms, were made a priority for the funds at last Wednesday’s board meeting, said Matteo Rizzo, the district’s assistant superintendent of Pupil Services.

One playground each at Westlake, Daniel Webster and Thomas Edison schools and both playgrounds at Marjorie Tobias, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George Washington were earmarked for money, Rizzo said.

Christina Ortiz, who has a son at Marjorie Tobias, said that updating the equipment there would be a welcome change. Ortiz, an outspoken parent in the district, said she would also be concerned with fixing other problems, such as attracting good teachers, a stated goal of the district.

“Quite frankly, the playgrounds in Daly City aren’t being updated like the ones in San Francisco are,” Ortiz said.

Good play structures are good advertising for the district because they send the message to residents that the schools care about a child’s well-being, said Board Member Annette Hipona.

“It promotes (the school and district) in an inexpensive and easy way,” Hipona said.

The district expects to bring in approximately $500,000 when its new Jefferson Elementary Schools Financing Authority refinances the bonds passed by voters in 2001.

The repairs and new equipment are estimated to cost $40,000 per playground, $360,000 for all the play equipment.

Rizzo said the district believes it will have enough money left over from refurbishing the playgrounds for repairs to its surplus properties, Christopher Columbus and Colma Elementary schools, both of which closed in 2004 due to declining enrollment.

“If we’re going to rent out these properties, we have to keep them maintained,” Rizzo said.

With another piece of the expected revenue, the district hopes to extend water lines to 21 portable classrooms around the district at a cost of $150,000, Rizzo said. Currently the district spends between $11,000-15,000 per year on bottled water for students in those classrooms, Rizzo said.

Fencing around the Franklin Delano Roosevelt school would also be replaced, Rizzo said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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