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School foundation will help equip Roosevelt playground

WILLMAR -- New playground equipment is coming to Roosevelt Elementary School to accommodate the younger students it will serve next year.

The Willmar Public Schools Foundation board agreed to donate $5,000 to help purchase the $14,000 playground set.

The PTSA organizations from Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt elementary schools are donating a total of $6,000 to the purchase.

In the past, Roosevelt has had students in grades 4 through 6. Its playground equipment is designed for children in that age group.

Next fall, it will have students in grades 1-5, and kindergarteners will be added when a seven-room addition is completed.

Lincoln and Jefferson will no longer be elementary schools next year. Community Education and Recreation programs will move into Jefferson this summer. Lincoln will have kindergarten students next fall and will be closed once the kindergarten addition is opened at Roosevelt.

Some board members said purchasing playground equipment, a capital expense, goes beyond the foundation's purpose of enhancing the learning experiences of children in the district.

Board member Orlo Almlie said he supported the changes the district has made in reorganizing several school buildings. "It's looking ahead," he said. Almlie is also a retired superintendent of Willmar's schools.

Other board members said they might have objected if the foundation had been asked to pay the entire cost, but they agreed with contributing a portion of the total cost.

"In a normal year, I think we'd have funds available," Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the board, "but next year's not going to be a normal year." The district is using all available capital funds to pay for the addition at Roosevelt, he said.

Kjergaard said the PTSA groups will be raising the additional money needed for the equipment. A donation from Steps to a Healthier Willmar is also pending.

In other business, the foundation board approved paying $1,650 for registration fees for 15 Business Professionals of America students attending national competition. Students will pay for the rest of their expenses on their own. A separate $500 donation to the foundation designated for BPA will be given to the group to use as needed.

A treasurer's report indicated that the foundation had more than $31,000 available to distribute and also had nearly $33,000 in a special fund donated by the estate of a retired teacher and designated for the benefit of kindergarteners.