May 15, 2021

New playground equipment coming for PC preschool

The youngest learners in Prairie City will now have their own playground. The PCM School Board approved Boland Recreation at $42,820 for the new equipment and $7,080 for fencing to add play structures at the school.

“This is for a smaller structure over by the baseball field. This is a preschool playground that would be used primarily by our kindergartners and pre-k kids who come out the door. It will be easy access for them to use,” superintendent Michelle Havenstrite said. “This is at Prairie City but it is not the big playground structure on the west side. Nothing has been done with that yet. The PTO is fundraising for that.”

According to state-wide funding for preschools, a designated area of play for the youngest learners is required. It is also required to have a fence around that area.

Havenstrite said those working on the project also felt it could be added value for parents and families who attend the baseball games to have a playground in the area. The school is currently looking at how to best address possible foul balls that could enter the play area during the games.

An update was also given on the fire alarm system at Prairie City Elementary. After talking with the fire marshall, the district found out it needs to develop a plan to update the Emergency Notification System for the entire Prairie City campus since the buildings are now linked together.

“The PCE Fire Alarm project didn’t turn out to be as simple as we thought it would be. The whole system has to be brought up to date,” Havenstrite said. “I kind of look at it as, ‘hey, let’s do the right thing for the safety of our kids,’ let’s upgrade the emergency notification system in all of them. We need to update and get our buildings up to code when there is an emergency. Fire, tornado, active shooter, our emergency system has to be put together.”

The district is going to put together a plan to present to the fire marshall to receive a variance, which is for five years. While the district has the full five years to comply, Havenstrite said the goal is to have it up-to-date in three.

“We can chunk it out in pieces and do it over time,” Havenstrite said.

The project is estimated to cost around $100,000. The superintendent brought up that Monroe Elementary also has an outdated system and would like to begin the process of getting all buildings in the district up to code.

In other business:

• A One to One program with Chromebooks for students in third through fifth grade was approved by the board. Technology director Sean Balzer said the move will help said in the direction to head to virtual snow days and enhance digital learning experiences. The computers would stay in the classrooms at all times but can be sent home in the event of virtual snow days.

The computers will be put on a three-year replacement cycle along with computers used by middle school and high school students. Kensington carts were also approved for purchase to help save classroom space.

• New equipment for the Monroe Elementary kitchen was approved for purchase. The pieces include new microwave steamers, multi-cook oven, induction range, holding cabinet and a few pots and pans. A bid from Hockenbergs was approved in the amount of $21,030.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com