Paton School in Shrewsbury loses playground

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By Joan Goodchild Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – Playground weather is here as the temperatures start to go up again. But the students at Paton Elementary School in Shrewsbury won's have any equipment to play on this season. The aging play structure on the school's grounds, which included swings, slides and climbing areas, has been taken down after a recent safety inspection deemed it was no longer secure for students to use.

Paton Principal Jayne Wilkin noted that the structure was about 15 years old, which is the typical lifespan of playground equipment.

“Ours was one of the older structures in the town,” Wilkin said. “Students will play on the paved surface in the back of the school during recess for the remainder of the school year.”

The kids can bring in balls and other toys to use at recess and the Paton PTO is also asking the community to donate any items that children could play with outdoors.

“Hula hoops, balls, bats, bubbles, jump ropes, any of that typical playground equipment [would be appreciated],” said Lorraine Daignault, president of the Paton PTO.

The Four Square and Hopscotch areas will be repainted to freshen them up. But that is likely all that the children will have to entertain them for quite some time, according to Daignault.

“The town doesn's have any money to contribute to building a new playground,” she said.

The Paton PTO is launching a fund-raiser for a new play structure, a project Daignault estimates will cost around $50,000. She anticipates it may take several years to raise the money and in the meantime, the students will have to do without.

To raise the necessary money, the committee is in the preliminary stages of planning a comedy-night fund-raiser. Other ideas for future moneymaking events, include bottle drives and selling commemorative bricks, or stepping stones, to be used on the new play space. A similar fund-raising initiative was successfully held several years ago when the playground at Dean Park was built.

“We'se also looking at ways the kids can help out, like a small change challenge,” Daignault said, “and we'se hoping to solicit local businesses to match what kids raise.”

She also said that she hopes some kind of temporary slide or similar equipment can be brought in for the students by the start of the next school year.