Eagle Valley Elementary nets $100,000 playground grant
EAGLE — Eagle County Schools’ oldest school building is getting a new playground compliments of a $100,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant.
Last week the GOCO board awarded a $100,000 School Yard Initiative grant on Monday to the town of Eagle in partnership with Eagle Valley Elementary International Baccalaureate World School. While the Eagle Valley Elementary school community was thrilled to hear the news about the grant, there’s no rush to spend it.
“We are so excited and we are looking to break ground in 2017,” said principal Tiffany Dougherty. “Because of the potential bond issue, we feel that it is in everyone’s interest to wait until then.”
Eagle County School District is considering a bond initiative and mill levy override election for this fall. The override would provide an estimated $8 million annually for operating funds districtwide and the $140 million bond issue would include replacement of both Eagle Valley Elementary and Eagle Valley Middle School at their current sites. The board of education hasn’t yet made the final decision to place the items on this fall’s ballot, but if the bond issue goes to the voters and if they pass it, Dougherty noted the money will be applied toward a new playground at a new facility.
“We have two years to spend our GOCO money and we don’t want to spend it too early,” she said.
In addition to the grant dollars, Eagle Valley Elementary has in-kind and fundraising money totaling about $100,000 for the playground project.
“I know $100,000 sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but the first cost estimate for the playground we designed cost $830,000,” Dougherty said.
The project backers knew that figure was far higher than the community could shoulder, so they trimmed the project back and now have a plan for a $350,000 playground. Dougherty said if the bond is passed, it would likely include around $150,000 for a school playground and that money, combined with the grant and with the fundraising efforts, would make the project feasible.
Great Outdoors Colorado’s School Yard Initiative, which will fund the Eagle Valley Elementary playground grant, helps schools upgrade their playgrounds to encourage active play and improve outdoor learning. Funded schools also become part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Schools and Outdoor Learning Environment program that provides field trips, family nature nights, and outdoor education training for teachers.
All School Yard Initiative-funded school playgrounds serve the entire community at-large since projects remain open outside of school hours. Schools that receive this funding are often in under served communities that lack safe access to quality parks or outdoor places to play.
Eagle Valley Elementary was one of five schools to receive funding from the 2016 School Yard Initiative, beginning with a $7,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant in December for professional design services. That funding helped guide the school through a student-led design process that is the trademark of the School Yard Initiative.
Eagle Valley Elementary is the oldest elementary school in the Eagle County School District and serves a highly diverse population. Most of the Eagle Valley Elementary students live within walking distance of the school.
An important component of Eagle Valley Elementary’s curriculum is stewardship of the earth; the Great Outdoors Colorado grant will not only revitalize a once-loved playground, but will also expand learning opportunities for students. Students have planned a new outdoor classroom, learning garden, climbing boulders, improved shade and new bilingual signs to best serve the entire student body.
Grants in Eagle County
To date, Great Outdoors Colorado has invested $18.3 million in Eagle County, preserving more than 4,500 acres of land.
Great Outdoors Colorado funding has supported Sylvan State Park, the Eagle Regional Visitor Information Center’s boat ramp and the Eagle Valley Trail. Eagle County was also recently named an Inspire community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.
Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. Great Outdoors Colorado’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, Great Outdoors Colorado has since funded more than 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support.
Visit GOCO.org for more information.
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