Saline elementary school students know what they want to see in a playground


Saline Area Schools Superintendent Steve Laatsch recently visited Woodland Meadows to hear students talk about playgrounds. photo courtesy of Saline Area Schools

There was a recent meeting of the minds on the playground at Saline’s Woodland Meadows Elementary School.

Students there had heard about the potential of what could come to their school from the passing of the new school bond in the Nov. 8 vote. The Sun Times News (STN) followed up with Saline Area Schools Superintendent Steve Laatsch to learn more about this “meeting” at the school for grades young fives through third.

“A student had approached Principal Washington when he heard we were getting new playgrounds, as a result of the $180 million bond proposal passing, and wanted to do a ‘walkthrough’ with me and Principal Washington to discuss the types of features students want on playgrounds,” Laatsch said.

The approval of the bond is a big deal for Saline Area Schools.

Speaking on behalf of the school district, Laatsch said, “We thank our outstanding community for supporting this bond. We believe that we have taken a very thoughtful, and financially responsible approach, to better support the students in our District moving forward.”

The playground visit started with the one student who initiated the idea, Laatsch said, “and grew to a larger group of students, touring the playground to talk about the things kids feel are important in playgrounds.”

Saline Area Schools Superintendent Steve Laatsch tours the playground with students at Woodland Meadows Elementary. photo courtesy of Saline Area Schools

In talking with the students, Laatsch said, “I did preface our walkthrough with the fact that we are going to make these playgrounds 'all accessible' meaning they will work well for students with mobility challenges (using walkers, wheelchairs, braces, etc.). They all really liked that we were doing that.”

Here’s a list of some of the ideas generated by the students:

  • They like ropes
  • They want more stairs to get to slides and other features
  • They love tunnels
  • They want a treehouse type of structure
  • They really want an elevator that will allow students to stand on it and then use a crank to elevate them up to the higher features of the equipment. I told them that I don't know if that is possible, but we can explore all their ideas.
  • They want soccer nets
  • They want to make sure they maintain an area where they can use sidewalk chalk
  • They said we need to get rid of chain link types of climbing apparatus features that could pinch fingers

The next steps, according to Laatsch, will see the school district interviewing Architectural Engineers and Construction Managers the week of Dec. 5.

“After we award the bids, we will start the planning process,” said Laatsch. “This means we will put a team of people together who will help design the playgrounds. This will involve students. We are looking forward to designing and building these playgrounds. We think this will be a very important addition for our students' physical and mental well being.”

STN asked Laatsch what
students can expect to see in the future.

“We will make sure that students are able to participate and see the types of options that are out there for new playgrounds,” he said. “This will include looking at various renderings that the architects can show us from other schools that will help us design our playgrounds. This project is in phase 1 of the bond. This means that we are going to start in on this project right away.”

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