District 58 is combining State and District funds with PTA and community group contributions to ensure all playgrounds achieve appropriate standard
New State of Illinois funding will help Downers Grove Grade School District 58 ensure that all of its elementary school playgrounds are updated, improved and accessible for students.
Gov. JB Pritzker signed a capital projects bill, House Bill 62, into law in 2019. Thanks to Rep. Anne Stava-Murray’s advocacy, this bill included nearly $1.5 million for playground improvements at several District 58 elementary schools.
Last year, District 58 received the first disbursement of this funding, which helped build El Sierra School’s new playground. Recently, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) informed District 58 that it had approved a second funding disbursement, totaling $1,171,200 for an additional seven schools. A third disbursement of $137,200 for two more schools is still planned for the future. Please note, DCEO determines which schools are selected to receive funds and the District has no control over how the money is awarded.
While this State funding is significant, its allocations differ from school-to-school. Some schools are receiving less than others, and one school is outside of the legislative district, and as such did not receive funding.
District 58 aims to provide an equitable educational experience -- and this extends to the playground as well. Due to budget constraints, the District lacks funds to fully renovate its playgrounds. Thanks to this State funding, District 58 will be able to supplement any gaps and ensure that all District 58 elementary school playgrounds are updated to an appropriate standard. We anticipate that this work will take place over the next two school years.
“On behalf of the District 58 community, I am very thankful to the State for awarding District 58 this funding and to Rep. Stava-Murray for her advocacy,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell. “Last year, we combined the State’s funding with District and PTA support to build the new El Sierra playground, and it turned out great! I am excited to continue this momentum to ensure all District 58 playgrounds are modernized and accessible!”
Please read the below Q&A to learn more about this funding.
1. Who determined which schools would receive State funding and how much funding?
When the District learned of potential capital funding during the 2018-2019 school year, a list of potential projects and cost estimates was sent to the State of Illinois (this included playgrounds). The State of Illinois determined the specific funding allocations for each District 58 elementary school. District 58 did not decide which schools would receive funding, nor how much money each would be allocated. Not every elementary school is receiving state funding, and the amounts allocated differ from school-to-school. In general, schools with large, older playgrounds received more money, and schools with newer playgrounds received less money. Because the allocation amounts are written in the law, District 58 cannot move money allocated for one school’s playground to a different school, and all funding must be used for playground improvements.
2. How will District 58 ensure all school playgrounds achieve an appropriate standard?
District 58 plans to supplement the state’s funding to ensure every District 58 elementary playground is appropriately updated. District 58 annually budgets for playground maintenance and repairs. Thanks to the state’s funding, the District will not need to spend as much in this area for several of its schools. The District will reallocate this funding in a manner to ensure all District 58 playgrounds meet an appropriate standard. By combining State and District funds with PTA and community group contributions, all District 58 elementary school playgrounds will be updated, improved and accessible. This work may include complete playground replacements for schools with older existing playgrounds, and minor improvements for schools with newer playgrounds.
3. How much State funding will each school receive?
According to House Bill 62, this is the funding amount that each District 58 school will receive from the State for playground improvements. This funding can be combined with additional District 58, PTA and community group contributions to rebuild or improve playgrounds.
Disbursement 1: 2021
- El Sierra: $180,000
Disbursement 2: 2022
- Fairmount: $234,000
- Henry Puffer/Grove Children’s Preschool: $255,000*
- Hillcrest: $74,600
- Indian Trail/Grove Children’s Preschool: $195,000
- Kingsley: $190,000
- Lester: $148,000
- Pierce Downer: $74,600
*District 58 has received approval to use a significant portion of this funding to remove an underground storage tank at Henry Puffer.
Disbursement 3: To be determined (However, these amounts are written into the law)
- Highland: $111,000
- Whittier: $26,200
The State has not indicated when it will disperse playground funds for Highland and Whittier schools. However, playground funds for both of these schools are written into House Bill 62, so District 58 does anticipate receiving them at some point. District 58 will promptly communicate when it learns more information regarding these funds.
District 58 Allocations (No State Funding Provided)
- Belle Aire: To be determined
Although currently to be determined, District 58 intends to allocate the funds needed to make Belle Aire’s playground equitable in quality to the District’s other elementary playgrounds. Please note: Rep. Stava-Murray advocated for playground funding for all of the District 58 schools in her legislative district (the 81st District of the Illinois House of Representatives). Belle Aire School is outside of her district, and did not receive any State funding.
4. How did the State decide which schools would receive funding in each disbursement?
District 58’s playground funding is part of House Bill 62, which is part of a larger four-bill $45 billion state infrastructure package. This bill is very large and the State has been disbursing funds as it is able. District 58 does not know why some schools were selected before others.
5. What can we expect next?
This spring, District 58 leaders will attend school PTA meetings and, as applicable, school playground committee meetings, to discuss how the state funding will affect individual school playground projects. After meeting with PTAs, principals will include their school’s specific playground plan in their school newsletter.
Due to the timing of the most recent disbursement, it is likely too late to publicly bid playground projects for summer 2022. District 58 is looking at summer 2023 and beyond.
District 58 will continue to seek grants to support its capital projects.
6. House Bill 62 passed in 2019. Why didn’t District 58 communicate this information sooner?
While House Bill 62 was signed into law in 2019, the funding’s disbursement timeline was uncertain. District 58 did not want to prematurely communicate this good news until it received approval to spend the funding. District 58 broadly shared information regarding the El Sierra playground disbursement last year. Since the majority of District 58 elementary schools are a part of this second disbursement, the District is more broadly communicating the specifics of the funding at this time.
7. Will the State funding cover all playground expenses?
No. While the State funding will certainly help, District 58 plans to supplement the state funding with some District funds, combined with PTA and community group funding.
In recent years, District 58 has been able to update some of its playgrounds thanks to incredible donations from school PTAs and community groups/playground committees. District 58 is very grateful for the support and hard work of these groups. Thanks to this partnership, District 58 has been able to build new playgrounds at several schools.
District 58 will continue to partner with PTAs and community groups/playground committees to improve its playgrounds.
8. Who can I contact with questions?
Please contact your school principal with individual school playground questions. Please contact Director of Buildings and Grounds Kevin Barto at email@example.com or 630-719-5858 for general playground questions.