October 21, 2021

New year, new playground

Kids under age 5 get place to play at Homer school

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Tom Rosato of Homer Central School District spreads wood chips Tuesday on a new playground for pre-schoolers at Homer Elementary School. The equipment posts are set 18 inches in the ground, with two layers of felt, a layer of stone and at least a foot of wood chips over it.

Tom Rosato, a facilities worker for the Homer Central School District, used a rake to spread several layers of woodchips, making sure he got every inch of the new playground area.

Come Sept. 4, 4-year-olds and younger will have new swings, a teeter-totter and much more that students can play on.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” said Jim McGory, the principal of Homer Elementary.

McGory said school district leaders realized during a safety inspection last year that the larger playground it had was only suitable for children age 5 and older, and the school has pre-schoolers
who, according to safety standards, cannot play on the larger playground.

To give the younger kids a way to play, the school bought games and toys for them to use in the field. However, McGory said the kids “weren’t playing in groups and team building,” like someone might find with kids on a playground.

“We found that their creative play lacked because they didn’t have their own dedicated space,” McGory said in a statement on the school district’s website.

School officials wanted that to change, so they got input from the preschool teachers and designed a playground especially for the little ones, including a multi-use jungle gym.

But the playground isn’t just for the school kids, it’s for the community, too. McGory said the playground can be used by others during after school hours and in the summer.

McGory said if it wasn’t for the school’s facilities team, the playground wouldn’t be ready by the first day of classes. They began work on the project a few weeks ago.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to provide our pre-K students with this high-quality playground,” said Superintendent Thomas Turck. “We are fortunate to have had board and community support to add a fourth pre-K classroom at the elementary school this year. This playground area is an extension of that commitment to developing the whole child.”