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PACs reimbursed for playgrounds

Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) at four local schools will be reimbursed for dollars they raised and spent on new playgrounds this year.

PACs, which are tasked with providing school playgrounds, will be reimbursed this year by the province which committed $8 million towards new playgrounds and reimbursements for recently purchased equipment.

“We’re very glad and I think it’s good recognition for the amount of work parents go through to fundraise for playgrounds,” said Peter Neale, secretary treasurer for school district 72. “It’s a good opportunity to give dollars back to the parent groups to build or improve playgrounds for our students.”

Discovery Passage will be reimbursed $10, 254, Ecole des Deux Mondes $25,631, Sandowne $26,686 and Oyster River $19,318, the full amount PACs put forward to purchase playground equipment.

For Discovery Passage, it means much-needed support for a playground that can accommodate all students.

In February 2011, the school district tore down the school’s large, aging wooden climber due to safety concerns, with no replacement unless the school’s small PAC could come up with $15-to-$30,000. Unfortunately at the time the PAC was fresh off a major fundraising campaign for a playground addition. The addition, which was purchased in Nov. 2010, cost the PAC $10,000, and took seven years to fundraise. The small structure is aimed at older kids, and with the old playground torn down, there is nothing for the younger students to play on.

Jessica Taylor, chair of the Discovery Passage PAC, said the reimbursement will help replace the old playground.

“With this reimbursement we can start looking at adding an additional playground in the new year – hopefully,” Taylor said.

“We have not heard yet when we will receive this money but it will definitely go back into a playground for the students at Discovery.”

The province announced on Dec. 7 that it would reimburse PACs for playgrounds purchased between Jan. 1, 2011 and Sept. 2, 2011.

Neale said Discovery Passage qualified because although its addition was purchased in 2010, the playground wasn’t fully installed until this year.

Oyster River also had its school’s playground demolished by the school district, in June 2011.

Bernadette LaFleur, PAC president last school year, said the group started fundraising for a new playground immediately after it was notified the playground would be taken down.

The school put in a new playground in Sept. 2011 and was pleased to discover the money it put in will be coming back.

“We’re thrilled about it because we’re a little school, we’re all happy about it,” said LaFleur.

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