A push for a new playground at Valleyview Centennial School is now in the hands of Brandon’s school board trustees.
Michelle Hood, Valleyview’s parent council representative, told trustees during their regular meeting Monday night that their school’s “current structure is falling apart.”
Although Valleyview is slated to receive funding for a new structure in 2015, Hood is trying to fast-track it to install the first phase of a new playground this June.
Since 2011, the City of Brandon and the Brandon School Division each agreed to set aside $30,000 of their annual budgets to put toward one new play structure a year.
Valleyview’s parent council committee has its sights set on a structure that costs close to $123,000, with the first phase costing roughly $90,000 to install.
Although a local financial institution has confirmed with Hood they are willing to provide a $60,000 loan to put towards installing the playground’s first phase, they require a letter from the school division guaranteeing the money will be paid back by September 2015. The institution has also agreed to cover the interest costs associated with the loan, which could reach as high as $4,000, Hood said.
“We are not asking for more money, or our money early — all we are asking is that the Brandon School Division stands behind their word and provides the letter guaranteeing the funds as originally promised,” Hood said.
So far, Hood, two other parents and the school’s roughly 150 students have raised close to $32,000 to put toward a new structure. Included in their fundraising efforts to this point is a $2,500 Brandon and Area Community Foundation grant, which is only being offered to them if the structure is installed this summer, Hood added.
Trustee Pat Bowslaugh told Hood that although she’s “empathetic” about the state of the school’s playground, it’s difficult for the school division to guarantee its portion of the funds in advance.
School board chair Mark Sefton said trustees will further discuss Hood’s request for a letter at their next scheduled meeting on April 28.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 16, 2014