Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Susan Monahan

Board reviews playground equipment proposal

Seeley Lake Elementary School


SEELEY LAKE – The Seeley Lake Elementary School Board reviewed proposals for ADA compliant playground equipment at the May 16 meeting.

The current playground is amazing said Josh Gibbs, superintendent/principal. People make it a rest stop when traveling through the area.

“It is starting to deteriorate,” Gibbs said. “Kids are getting tons of slivers from the playground (equipment).”

Some of the boards are breaking, which is fixable, Gibbs said. Since it is pressure treated it can’t be sanded down to get a nice, smooth finish.

There is the option of a rubber coating which deteriorates in two to three years, so is just a band-aid, said Heather Mincey, district clerk.

Information presented at the meeting was informational to start the discussion, Gibbs said. The board concurred that change may be necessary while acknowledging the emotional attachment the community has with the playground. Trustee Ryan Dunster suggested looking at a total rebuild of the current structure.

Trustee Gary Wayne commented that current structure has areas where the staff on playground duty cannot see all the students, creating a safety hazard. Gibbs agreed this is a problem with the current structure.

The SLE Park Committee, which Gibbs is part of, is meeting June 7 at 3:30 p.m. Further information will be presented. It will be important to get community input, Gibbs said. “No decision should be made tonight.”

Gibbs said there has been discussion to come up with a three-to-five-year plan for the entire park area which includes the ball fields, football fields, old horseshoe pits and tennis courts. The playground is part of that discussion.

The proposal for the playground equipment presented could cost approximately $115,000 but SLE is eligible to use ESSER funds. The school also may be able to work with Missoula County Parks, Gibbs said. There was an interlocal agreement at one point and may be an option again.

Gibbs said, unfortunately wooden playgrounds are being replaced with plastic and metal. It is easier to clean and sanitize.

The proposal was set aside pending further information from the Parks Committee meeting. At that time the board would decide to set up public meetings to allow community time to review and comment as well as put out a survey to see how the park is used and what people want in a playground.

In other business the board:

• Accepted resignation from David Cahoon, PE Instructor and Shiann Chadwick, assistant janitor.

• Approved Classified and Administrative Staff contract renewals.

• Approved Fiscal Year 2023 Missoula County Election Contract.

• Approved FY 2023 Health Insurance proposal to continue with MUST insurance for one more year.

• Appointed Karl Marx as chair and Jody “Doc” Welter as vice chair.

• Appointed Heather Mincey as District Clerk.

• Learned Altacare of Montana is pulling their support to school districts. The district has been contacted by Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch to partner for the 2022-23 school year to provide the Comprehensive School Community Treatment (CSCT) program.

The next board meeting was set for June 20th at 5:30 p.m. at SLE with the Swan Valley Contract on the agenda.


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