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June 2012
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McCracken gets grant for playground

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The McCracken County school district has secured a grant that will help ensure that the playground at the new intermediate school doesn't face some of the growing pains seen at Lone Oak Intermediate School during its first year.

The Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded a $5,000 Toolbox for Education grant for construction of a playground at Reidland Middle School. The school was one of more than 600 schools to receive an improvement grant this year.

Since 2006, more than $40 million in awards have been awarded to 8,500 U.S. public schools, from kindergarten to high school, according to district grant writer Adam Shull.

Shull said the funds are allocated to Reidland Middle School, which will move to the newer half of the former Reidland High School complex on Benton Road this summer.

Following the 2014-2015 school year, fourth- and fifth-grade students from Reidland and Farley elementary schools will move to the other side of the complex. The new school will then be called Reidland Intermediate School.

"With two different distinct grade levels, the kids will need different stuff," Shull said. "The playground is important to the district, and it's great to get help with that."

The grant will pay for an outdoor pavilion, bench, rubberized mulch to create a protective surface and a freestanding swing set. The swings are the most expensive item, costing about $2,200. The funding goes toward the playground construction but will not cover the entire cost, according to Shull.

"It's not the biggest amount of money but it's extremely helpful to reduce the money the district has to pay out of pocket," he said.

Facilities Director Todd Jackson said the district will form a committee headed by future Reidland Intermediate School principal Paula Grubbs to poll students, parents and school officials and create a plan for the playground. The council should form when school reconvenes this fall and provide recommendations by the end of December.

He said the collaboration will ensure the correct equipment is in place for various age groups.

"Having the committee will absolutely help us avoid the challenges we faced at Lone Oak Intermediate," he said.

The district opened Lone Oak Intermediate School for fourth- and fifth-grade students, in the former Lone Oak Middle School building on Cumberland Avenue, in fall 2013. Parents cited a number of issues with the new school throughout the year. One of the most frequent complaints was a lack of proper playground equipment.

As the school year began, the playground at Lone Oak Intermediate included places to play organization team sports, including a soccer field, basketball goals and track. In November, the district order a swing set but because of low temperatures and wet ground, it couldn't be installed until several months ago, Jackson said.

The grant requires that supplies be purchased by this fall but the project timetable depends on the committee's decision. Jackson said his department's current focus is getting the site of the future intermediate school ready for, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students who will move in this fall.

The former Reidland Middle School will be home to the central board office after a move this summer.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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