About 300 people filled the Mancos school cafeteria Monday for a fundraiser chili dinner and design rollout for the elementary school’s possible new playground.
The district is pursuing a $110,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant to build the playground. Fourteen elementary schoolers formed a youth task force that helped design the plans.
“This is truly their ideas come to life,” Elementary Principal Cathy Epps said. “We feel very confident.”
District officials will find out if Mancos has been awarded the grant in April, Epps said. The district is responsible for raising 25 percent of the total project cost, both in cash and from in-kind professional services donations. The district made about $1,400 profit from the dinner, and supplies were donated by businesses including Walmart, Millwood Junction, Coca-Cola and Girl Scouts, Epps said.
Designer Rebecca Colbert of Denver-based firm MIG discussed the design Monday. Plans 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 would connect to the Mancos River walk, and an outdoor classroom would be constructed near the river. A foot bridge would be constructed across the river, connecting to a property the school district recently acquired on the south side of the river.
The total cost of the project as presented is $547,967, so the district likely would need to scale it back or find additional funding sources. The playground would be opened up as a public park after school hours.
Also Monday, Mancos Superintendent Brian Hanson discussed the district’s campus master plan, which includes the potential new playground and other building improvements campus-wide. In addition to the GOCO grant, the district will pursue a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant and will ask the voters for a bond to fund the improvements.
Proposed campus improvements include connecting the cafeteria building to the elementary school, adding a stage to the performance center, bringing the gym back up to standard for varsity activities and adding more parking, Hanson said. The playground on the east side of the elementary school would be converted to an improved parking and drop-off area for the elementary school.
The superintendent said he was thankful for the community support.
“It’s exciting that we can do these things,” he said.
Epps said integrating nature-based play was very important to the kids and the design was created with that theme.
“We are going to get this grant,” Epps said. “It’s what our kids want.”