Covered play area opens for kids

State Rep. Barbara Bailey, Coupeville Elementary School Principal Fran McCarthy and school board member Kathleen Anderson cut the ribbon to dedicate the elementary school’s new covered play area.   - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
State Rep. Barbara Bailey, Coupeville Elementary School Principal Fran McCarthy and school board member Kathleen Anderson cut the ribbon to dedicate the elementary school’s new covered play area.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Two years ago Coupeville Elementary School teachers welcomed newly hired Superintendent Patty Page by stressing the need for a covered play area on the playground.

They donned umbrella hats and descended upon a school board meeting to illustrate the wet recesses students have had to endure because there isn’t any shelter for them during the windy, rainy winters.

The community’s persistence paid off. Students now have a dry place to play on a rainy day. The kids, along with teachers and administrators, were on hand Wednesday morning to dedicate the much-needed covered play area. Several of the students wore the same umbrella hats that teachers used years ago to lobby administrators and school board members.

“It takes a lot to go back to class wet,” Superintendent Patty Page said in front of the student body Wednesday morning. “You’re very deserving of this covered play area.”

She added that completing the covered play area has been one of her priorities since she was hired as superintendent.

School board member Kathleen Anderson recalled that the school had a covered play area years ago, but it was removed to make room for a classroom wing. She said a covered play area had appeared on various ballot measures over the years, but the money from those measures never stretched far enough to pay for it.

“We knew it was a must,” Anderson said.

The cost of the elementary school’s covered play area, complete with basketball hoops, was covered by funds from the $22.8 million bond voters approved in 2004 for the new high school.

However, the covered play area almost wasn’t built.

Shortly after voters approved the bond, estimates for the new high school increased and officials had to prioritize the projects promised on the ballot measure. Once the high school was complete, other projects would be complete using any leftover money.

Completed projects funded by the bond include the new high school, a new auxiliary gym attached to the main gymnasium, security improvements at the main entry to the elementary school and the covered play area.

It cost the school district approximately $310,000 to improve the school’s playground. The school district needed state help to come up with the money.

Page thanked State Rep. Barbara Bailey for her efforts to help the school district secure a $111,000 grant from the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.

Bailey attended the dedication and remarked how thrilling it was to see the covered play area come together.

The students teamed up to write thank you notes to everybody involved with the project. Students presented architects Alex Rolluda and Chris Nanes, Anderson and former school board member Deborah Turner with thank you notes before the ribbon cutting.

With construction complete, the school district has approximately $50,000 left in bond dollars. Page said staff will review what was on the bond proposal voters approved five years ago and come up with a priority list to present to the school board during its July meeting to best decide how to move forward.

“We will try to honor what we promised,” Page said.

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