It was the sort of back-to-school news that had everyone buzzing.
Parents at Adams Road Elementary are excited and relieved by last week’s announcement their school will get money to build a playground.
Adams Road and another new local elementary school, Hazelgrove, are two of 44 schools that are to receive $50,000 from the province for playgrounds.
“Now, we’ll be able to have a beautiful, decent playground for the kids to play in,” says Heather Harasymow, a parent of four children who will eventually all attend Adams Road.
The school’s Parent Advisory Council at began actively fundraising for playground equipment before the K-7 school even opened last January.
Like other parents, Harasymow had been surprised to learn a playground wasn’t included in the $11 million construction budget – something she says will no longer be the case when future schools are built.
On Sept. 2, Premier Christy Clark announced $8 million will be spent over two years to upgrade, replace or build new playgrounds in the province.
Additionally, the Ministry of Education will change its capital project agreement with school districts to ensure playground equipment is included when building new elementary schools.
“It’s great that we’ve got it for our school, but it’s great that they’re changing the way they do funding for playgrounds,” Harasymow said. “It’s such a relief. Now the funds we raise will be used for what they’re supposed to be used for,” such as classroom equipment and field trips.
Harasymow had strong praise for Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon – who’s also B.C.’s finance minister – for his help, along with his assistant, and Education Minister George Abbott.
Harasymow and PAC president Wendy Rachwalski brought the issue to Falcon’s attention in March, setting off a flurry of email correspondence.
“To have the funds now is pretty impressive,” she said, adding Falcon thanked them for bringing the matter to his attention.
“Sometimes it does take the people who are affected to stand up and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right.’”
Speaking at the funding announcement in Delta last week, Falcon sounded as pleased, too.
“Playgrounds are an essential part of a healthy and fun school experience,” he said.
“I am thrilled that Adams Road and Hazelgrove Elementary schools will soon be able to provide that experience for their students,” he added, thanking the local PACs for bringing the issue to his attention.
The Adams Road school community will gather to install the playground later this month or in early October.