Board shows support for playground<br>
The WEMS Playground Committee is moving forward, according to member and WEMS Principal David Bowling.
A Northern Arizona University professor who is reportedly an “expert on playgrounds” is reviewing the project’s plans to assure the design is safe. After reviewing the plans, the professor will return a report to the committee, Bowling said.
“The report will be based on research and scientific data,” Bowling said. “The next step is developing a timeline for the project.”
The WNAC received an update on the playground plan Feb. 17. The plan will be re-done and ready in two weeks. The new plan will save money, be better designed and have more equipment, said Dan Barnes, board member. Barnes provided the update during a Feb. 18 Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Board meeting.
Approximately $200,000 is needed to build the playground. Bowling stated that there is between $500,000-$750,000 available in grant monies that could be obtained for the project. He plans to approach the city of Williams seeking a partnership to secure grant monies.
“We’re making progress,” said Don Dent, WNAC member. “We are ready to move forward with this project and will seek corporate funding.”
Dent recommended that the WNAC be named in the board’s resolution. With the resolution designating the WNAC as a fund-raising committee, corporate sponsorships would be more accessible.
Dent added that the WNAC is obtaining a federal identification number and forming a trust. Any funds raised will be funneled through the account to the school district.
“The Williams Kiwanis Club, city of Williams, Chamber of Commerce and Williams Rotary Club have formed a partnership. We are working together here,” said Albert “Bud” Parenteau Sr., board member.
Ten-year-old Karrina Rotter, a student at WEMS, expressed disappointment to the board in reference to the vacant playground.
“I was in second grade two years ago when the play-a-saurus was taken away,” Rotter said.
At first, the students were dismayed about the removal of the playground equipment, Rotter said. Students were told that the equipment would be replaced.
“We were promised a new playground, but everything was taken away from us,” she said.
All that remains on the playground is mud and prairie dogs. A lack of equipment leads to boredom and creates discipline problems, according to Rotter.
“Recess is important,” she said. “When we come inside, we still have too much energy.”
Board members shook Rotter’s hand and thanked her for her input.
No spelling bee
Williams resident and parent Frank McNelly spoke to the board during a call to the public in reference to no spelling bee offered at the WEMS.
“Saturday is the Coconino County spelling bee. Williams will not be represented in the county bee. This is the first time I remember Williams not participating in the spelling bee,” McNelly said.
McNelly stated that in the past, one of his daughters won a spelling bee in Williams. His younger daughter is excited about participating in spelling bees as well. When he realized there had been no spelling bee, McNelly stated he contacted Bowling.
“I was told that ‘it had fallen through the cracks.’ How do you forget a spelling bee? That is like forgetting Christmas vacation,” he continued. “This is the same thing as the playground. If the public doesn’t raise hell, nothing happens. Since you (board) can’t talk to me and I can’t talk to you, that’s all I have to say.”
The board directed WUSD Superintendent Susan Scherz to look into the matter.
A preliminary 100-day report released by Scherz reflects the average daily membership at the district is approximately 701 students. In 2003-2004, the ADM was 710 students — a decline in enrollment by nine students. The decline will likely have a negative impact on the 2005-2006 annual budget.
The board approved the 2005-2006 school calendar and directed the Calendar Committee to begin working on the 2006-2007 calendar. Per the calendar, staff will return July 28. The first day of school is Aug. 11 and the last day is May 26, 2006.
A special board meeting and work session will begin today at 5:30 p.m. at the Williams High School library, 440 S. Seventh St. Agenda items include discussions of high school eligibility requirements, review of administrative contracts, disposition of real property owned by the district and the chain of command.