Mancos Elementary School has been awarded a $110,000 grant that will fund upgrades at its playground.
Great Outdoors Colorado awarded the funds as part of the agency’s School Yard Initiative program, according to a March 23 press release from the agency.
Mancos Schools Superintendent Brian Hanson said Monday the grant is part of a larger master plan for campus upgrades.
“That’s great news,” he said of the School Yard Initiative grant.
The program aims to create school grounds that inspire active physical play and enhance learning about nature and the environment, according to the GOCO website. All school yards must be designed in part by students.
Fourteen elementary schoolers formed a youth task force that helped design the Mancos plans, which include an outdoor classroom near the Mancos River.
Funded schools are also eligible to become part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Schools and Outdoor Learning Environment (SOLE) program that provides field trips, family nature nights, and outdoor education training for teachers, according to the release.
The district is responsible for raising 25 percent of the total project costs, either in cash or in-kind contributions of materials or services.
The plans for the Mancos playground include a 12-foot-tall net climber, a group swing, a water table and a wet sand digging area. A new dining terrace would be constructed south of the cafeteria building and the hill south of that building would be re-graded to be optimized for sledding.
The playground also will connect to the Mancos River walk. A foot bridge would be constructed across the river, connecting to a property the school district acquired last year on the south side of the river.
The total cost of the project as presented is more than $500,000, so the district might need to scale it back. Hanson said school officials had not yet made any decisions on cutting any features from the design plans.
The playground will be opened up as a public park after school hours.
Mancos School District also submitted a grant proposal for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program earlier this year. If awarded, the BEST grant will go toward campus upgrades, Hanson said. The district also will pursue a bond issue from voters in the district that, if approved, also would support the campus redesign, he said.
Hanson said he anticipates news in June on whether the BEST grant has been awarded. The bond issue will be on this fall’s election ballot.
If the district gets the BEST grant and the bond issue passes, construction on school improvements, including the playground, will start next spring, Hanson said.
Great Outdoors Colorado announced three other grant recipients in Southwest Colorado last week:
Cortez: A $108,000 grant to build six pickleball courts in Centennial Park. The new pickleball courts will replace existing tennis courts.
Bayfield: A $225,000 grant to build a park at Pine River Library. It will include a nature-themed playground, a picnic area, a court for multiple sports, an outdoor classroom and more, and is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
Lone Mesa State Park: A $6,008 grant from the new Director’s Innovation Fund to study how wildlife are impacted by outdoor recreation development. The study will count the wildlife species in the park using motion-triggered cameras, and compile information to inform any future development of the area.