Why did we wait until October/November to decide to replace the playground?

The district facilities department conducted an assessment of the current wooden playground structure this fall (after the Dolphin Dash planning was in full swing) and determined that it was at/near its end of life.  Knowing that Smith is not due for renovation for several years, at the earliest, an inquiry was made asking what would happen if the play structures were replaced before the school is renovated.  At that time, it was confirmed that any new structure built would be repurposed at Smith in any future rebuild of the school during the life of that playground (typically 25-30 years).  With that, it made sense to explore replacing the playground as soon as possible rather than wait several years and risk having a reduced amount of playground space if any of the current structure needed to be removed for safety reasons in the meantime.  Mrs. Warner gathered support from the PTSA and found a committee of parents willing to spearhead Project Playground.


Why does the Lake Washington School District not fund our new playground?

LWSD does not support the replacement of any school’s playground entirely. When a school is being replaced, it is funded by a bond, and included in that plan for a new school is a playground.

For Project Playground, LWSD will provide the removal of the old playground and replacement of the bark chips as per LWSD and safety code. The district would provide funds (amount is still being finalized) to ensure the playground was up to the district standard, however like other schools have done in the district, we have the opportunity as a community to raise additional funds to enhance the playground above and beyond the district standard.


What would happen if we do not fundraise for a new playground?

The district would continue to monitor and assess the structural safety of the playground. Due to the wooden big toys age, replacement parts are becoming obsolete so if it is deemed unsafe for play and cannot be repaired, it would be cordoned off and removed for safety reasons. Smith kids would have a reduced playground equipment until the school building itself is replaced through the bond process.


If the school is rebuilt, if/when the next bond issue is passed, will the new playground we build be torn down? 

Mrs. Warner has worked with the school district and has been informed that if and when Smith is scheduled to be rebuilt – dependent on bonds/levies passing – the playground that we install now will be moved or repurposed on the new Smith campus. 


What is the fundraising strategy?   I feel like I was just asked for money...

We are grateful for the enthusiastic response from both the parents and kids thus far.  The strategy is to provide a variety of opportunities and ways to participate for all who would like to contribute to the playground project in ways that match with your family values.  Direct donations are always welcome, but never required.  There will also be shopping fundraisers (where a percentage of your purchase goes to playground fund), restaurant fundraisers, an auction supported in part by corporate sponsors, and more to come.  Families are also encouraged to involve their kids in helping raise money as a learning exercise, as with the example of some families holding their own bake sales at their parent’s work recently.


What about the money I’ve already donated during the Dolphin Dash?  Can those funds be used?

The annual Dolphin Dash has been the single active fundraiser which funds all of the PTSA sponsored programs and events powered by your donations and volunteer time throughout the year (Explore Art, Nature Vision, Dance Week, STEM Night, Reflections, International Night, WatchDOGS, Winter Wonderland, Safety & Emergency Preparedness, Safety Patrol, Read Naturally, PlayEveryday, student scholarship funds, teacher scholarship funds, library resources, magazine and technology subscriptions, etc).

 At our Fall General Membership meeting, we held a brainstorming session of items that any dollars raised above and beyond our Dolphin Dash goal could be used for.  The list brainstormed is being reviewed by the board, along with the final Dolphin Dash figures (we’re still anticipating corporate matching funds which makes up ~40% of our fundraising and is still coming in). 

 At that meeting, Mrs. Warner also presented the Project Playground details, and asked for our support.  Attendees of the meeting were supportive of a committee being formed and specific effort to fundraise for a new Smith playground.

 Typically PTSAs add to district contributions for new playgrounds or playground enhancements with multi-year fundraising efforts in addition to their regular annual fundraising efforts.  The Smith PTSA Board of Directors approved a $600 line item be added to the budget for Project Playground expenses (printing costs etc.), and to allow the Project Playground committee to start fundraising efforts.  All monies raised by the Project Playground fundraising efforts will be accounted for as income against that budget line item and granted to the school for the purpose of playground enhancement.

 Thanks to the generous donations by you during the Dolphin Dash, at this point the Board is also expecting, as part of our review of the final Dolphin Dash donations/matches, we will be to be able to recommend that some of the funds previously raised through the Dolphin Dash be allocated to the Project Playground grant (reducing the amount needed to be raised by the Project Playground effort).  In line with our approved Smith PTSA Standing Rules, any change to a budget line item $1000 or more per fiscal year must be approved by the Board of Directors and also by a majority vote during a Membership meeting, so please join us at the January General Membership Meeting to have your voice and vote heard! (Date TBD)


When will the playground be installed? 

Mrs. Warner, the School district and the Project Playground Team are working with a vendor to create several designs to work with to make sure that the students have the best play value in a new playground. Several designs will be ready for review by early December, and we are hoping the students will be excited to vote on potential designs for their new playground.  If funds can be fully secured by February or March, we are hoping installation can be in early May in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Smith Elementary.  If we do not raise enough funds to meet that timeline, fundraising efforts would continue for future year installation/enhancement.

Big thanks Ms. Warner and the Project Playground Team that got started so quickly on this effort, but especially to all of you as well as local businesses that have already contributed to Project Playground.  It’s pretty cool that our kids could experience a new playground as soon as this school year!


More questions? 

Please contact the Project Playground Team at: