EPPING - Playtime is just as important as academics when it comes to younger kids. That was the message from voters who spoke in favor of a $181,246 proposal to build a new playground at Epping Elementary School at Thursday night's school deliberative session.
Voters made no changes to the five proposed articles, sending them to the school warrant for a vote at the polls on March 12.
The new playground generated the most discussion as parents and school officials urged voters to support the proposal that would have no tax impact as it would be funded through impact fees.
School board Chairman Dave Mylott said the elementary school playground built in the late 1980s isn't big enough to accommodate the students and doesn't offer as much "active play" as the new one. Recess typically involves 80 to 150 students, but the playground can only hold about 30 to 40 students at a time. As many as 200 students could fit on the new playground, he said.
The playground also serves the recreation department and is open to the community when school isn't in session.
Parent Andrea loving, who has three children at the elementary school, said the playground is needed not only for the school but the community as well. She formed a group called Friends of Epping a few years ago and tried to push a plan to build a new park but found it too challenging due to funding and other issues.
"The kids in this community deserve a place to play and we really don't have a place to play at this time," she said.
Budget committee member Paul Spidle was the only one from his board to oppose the plan. He said he wasn't against the playground, but the method of funding. The impact fees should be used for infrastructure improvements.
"In my mind, that money could be better spent on the buildings and not on the playground," he said.
Voters had little to say about the proposed $17.3 million school budget and a proposed two-year contract for paraprofessionals that seeks an additional $36,578 in the 2013-14 school year and $35,705 in 2014-15 to cover pay raises and benefit increases. firstname.lastname@example.org