Ressie Jeffries playground funding on a roll

Part of Ressie Jeffries Elementary School’s facelift that will be occurring over the next year includes rehabilitation of the school’s playground.

Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent for administration, said Warren County Public Schools is in contract negotiations with Lantz Construction Winchester for the school’s parking lot project and anticipates signing the contract within a week. Designed by Pennoni Associates, the project will add parking spaces to the school in two areas.

“They’ll be working daytime and up through the evening hours,” she said. “Some of the more noisy work will happen during breaks.”

While the roof and front entrance project is expected to be complete by the end of summer, she said the parking lot project could be completed as late as next fall, allowing for a full year of work.

Some of the additional parking spaces will be located where current playground equipment is installed at Ressie. Sheppard said the school PTO had started fundraising for playground enhancements before the renovation and parking projects were planned. With the parking project in progress, she said there’s some extra drive behind the playground rehabilitation.

The playground’s total cost of $119,050 is split into four phases, with each phase providing for different sections with different equipment. The school aims to raise funds for the first two phases, requiring $30,000 and $41,500 respectively, by summer 2017.

Sheppard said the schools have raised around $13,000 and anticipate another $4,000 to $5,000 to come from a civic organization in the near future. This funding brings the project about halfway through its first phase.

She said Ressie students have been holding direct sales fundraisers and the PTO will be hosting a dance later in the month. Ressie will also host a Fall Fun Festival in October to help raise money for the playground.

Warren County Public Schools has been working with the Ressie Jeffries Elementary School staff, administration and PTO on the playground plans, and the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department will work on the site and equipment installation.

Land Planning & Design Architect’s concept plan for the playground describes its 1.4 acres divided into two play areas for different age groups: one for kindergarten through second grade and one for third through fifth grade. Each group will have its own section of a paved hard court and its own equipment.

Different “nature play” pieces will be added to a few reinstalled pieces in Ressie’s new playground. Sheppard said around half of the school’s current equipment will be recycled.

“We had teachers and PTO representatives as part of the planning process,” she said. “… We sat down at couple of meetings and discussed the type of equipment and kind of what we wanted it to look like.”

She said that Ressie students should be able to use the existing equipment through the fall, and work on the new project could begin in the spring or summer. The school aims to complete all phases by around summer 2017 or spring 2018.

“We can do it in phases or we can lump it all together,” she said of the project’s construction. “It just depends on how much funds we have available at the time.”

Progress on the playground fundraising is being tracked thermometer-style in the form of a jaguar’s tail near the school entrance.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com