Special SAC Meeting: Playground Redevelopment Contribution April 30, 2021

  This virtual meeting was held online via Google meet.  

Call to order

Meeting begins: 7:00 pm

David Fudge welcomes everyone and begins the meeting: 

What the playground committee is asking for is for the SAC to consider the following motion: 

To commit to a contribution of up to $10,000 of existing SAC funds toward the playground revitalization project as necessary.

Why: There is a grant from the TDSB that is funding most of the project. This grant includes funding for all of the grounds work required (paving, grass, play area, removal of the old structure, and 2 additional bunkies) as well as a new play structure. The portion of the grant allocated to the structure itself gets us the ‘bare minimum’ which, after seeing the proposals, is not adequate for a school of our population. In order to get a play structure that meets the needs of the school, and for a wider age group, we need to add funds to allow proposals to be expanded.

Impact on SAC budget:

We currently have approximately $21,000 in the SAC bank account. Of that, nearing $6000 has been allocated toward funding teachers classroom enhancements and virtual tours for the 2020/21 school year. Committing $10,000 to the playground would reduce our bank account down to approximately $5000. This could impact the grade 3 ukulele program. 

Historically, we have fully subsidized the ukulele program for grade 3 students at a cost of $7000 annually. Last year we asked for a contribution from parents to help fund this program. USchool has told us that they will not be offering the grade 3 program during the 2021-22 school year. If and when they do offer the grade 3 program again, we will continue asking parents for a contribution and continue to partially subsidize this program. It is also important to note that when this program is able to be run again, we will be able to run our fundraisers, which are currently on hold across the TDSB, so the future of the USchool program will not be jeopardized by committing funds to the playground project at this time.

Aside from all of that, while the SAC is allowed to carry forward a surplus from year to year, we should not be holding as much as we have currently. Spending this money on the playground is a good and valid use of SAC funds and will benefit ALL students at the school present and future.

In addition to the funds from the existing grant, the school has committed to contributing $25000 from the year’s budget, and with up to $10000 from the SAC budget it should get us closer to what we need for a functional playground. 

Jennifer: We also plan to host a playground specific ‘Kahoot!” fundraiser, to be held virtually, which will give families an opportunity to support this initiative as well.

David Fudge: Timeline of the grant requires that it be spent by Dec 31.

Question: Do we know what we would get as a final product?

Alana Dickie: At this point, we are still in the bidding process. Initially we got bids for specific play structures from 6 vendors. Nothing was good.

We want to go back with more funding and we will make a choice from an updated set of proposals.

Question: Could we plan more targeted fundraisers? 

Jennifer: Because of Covid restrictions across the board, we could not do any fundraising this year. Kahoot would be able to go ahead and would provide some support. We would plan to have a fundraising venture once the project is done to inject funds back to the SAC.

David: We are not supposed to carry forward more than 5K year over year. 

Liz: It is standard for most SAC 1-2K to be carried forward each year.

David: the only thing we have spent on is classroom enhancement and programs. Nothing coming in also means mostly nothing is going out. 

Jennifer: We have decided to support classes in supplies and trips. If the Kahoot is successful we will do more, as they have proven to be wildly successful for students. Overhead is low and hopefully participation is high. 

Question: Can SAC not just ask for donations? Does it have to be a formal ask?
Jennifer: We can we for donations, and we typically do. We did not ask for the playground as we have the funds and we cannot carry this much going forward. An additional challenge is that we need the money to be indicated as approved or not so the revised project RFP can go out on Monday, which means we don’t have a timeline available to make the ask for this now. 

David: And just to remind people that this is a commitment, not a cheque going out today. This would allow the SAC to spent the money as required, up to $10000.

Jennifer: As a result of the amount of money we needed a large consensus to move forward. Which is why we sent an email to the school to ensure that we have community support to spent this money. We are able to keep the spider web, so while we are looking for a full solution, even if we do not get exactly what we ‘want’ with these additional funds, there may be opportunity to add to the structures in the future. 

Natalie Di Francesco: I would note that is what the committee has said as we have worked through the project—think about it in stages, with this being stage 1 now. The option to add items to it in future phases.

Alana: No need to get lost in the weeds about future playground stuff in this meeting, we are needing to move ahead on Monday with the project with whatever budget we have.

Question: If we have the option to add in the future, can we vote on the $10000 now? 

David: Yes, we need to vote on it now. While the option to expand may exist down the road, the play structure we get now is what we get. 

Graeme: This will still be a large and a substantial playground, that we could continue to expand upon in the future. 

Question: Is there any potential to do any personal fundraising this weekend to add to the 10K? 

David: Yes, you can absolutely, but we need to have a number on Monday that is a firm commitment. So today’s vote is committing to the $10000 now. 

Jennifer: If someone contributed via SchoolCashOnline we wouldn’t see that money immediately, so if you do want to make a contribution, please send an email to Luc to indicate that. 

Luc: We cannot go higher than $35000, between the school budget and the SAC contribution, which is what we would be at if today’s motion is passed.

David: Please note that the committee feels pretty confident that the additional $35000 would result in something pretty great from the vendors. 

Luc: The grant covers a lot of the yard and foundation infrastructure for this project. 

Question: How old is the current playground?

David: We have lived here 12 years and it has been here that whole time. 

Luc: The board identified it as being on its last legs with the Sustainability Office which is why it was selected as one to revitalize.

Jennifer: We will include the motion being put forth in the chat, and as a result of this being a virtual meeting, we require people to vote in the chat. You can vote in favour or not. 

David: Graeme moves this motion. Jackie is seconding. 

All in favour can vote in favour, and all opposed can vote in opposition. All abstaining may.

It looks like we have majority in favor to pass the motion. Motion carries. 

Jennifer: Thank you for spending this time on your Friday night. If you have any questions, comments or if there is anything that we can clarify, please let us know at sacinfo@johnenglish.ca and we will get back to you. 

Meeting concludes at 7:33 pm.