AUG. 31, 2023 — The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District and Our Children’s Place have opened a new age-appropriate playset for the youngest students in the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program at Midlakes Elementary School.
The new playset, which opened on Aug. 28, is adjacent to the north playground at the school and features three slides, a twisting climbing wall, a ladder, and areas where kids can lift and pull their way through.
"Giving children an outlet to play amongst their peers in a safe space is crucial to their gross motor and social development,” said Sharon McInroy, Executive Director of Our Children’s Place. "Recess is not just free play. Children are growing their brains by the minute, whether that is taking turns up the stairs or climbing the stairs, being confident about going down the slide, or confident in asking a friend to go down the slide with them, they are learning valuable skills that will last them a lifetime."
The UPK program at Midlakes Elementary School is a partnership between the school district and Our Children’s Place, which manages four full-day classrooms at the school designed to prepare children for kindergarten by developing their social, physical, cognitive, and language skills. The program is funded through state funds.
"Our facility here at Midlakes did not have a play structure that met the requirements for our students at the UPK level," said Nicholas Ganster, Superintendent of the school district. "With some quick maneuvering and collaboration from Karl Dubash in the business office and Ryan Tilburg, our Director of Facilities, we now have something that meets the needs of our littlest learners."
Federal funds designated for universal pre-kindergarten paid for the $20,000 cost and installation of the new playset at no cost to local taxpayers. Increasing enrollment in the program helped make those funds available.
"In May, on very short notice, we realized we had some money that if we didn’t spend, we would lose," said Karl Dubash, Business Administrator of the school district. “Very quickly, our Facilities Department worked to find a company and an appropriate location on campus to install the playset. From the district’s point of view, we are just thrilled that we could put something together in such a short amount of time and bring some smiles to our children.”
The play set was installed during the week of July 4 and formally opened to the public on Aug. 28 during a ribbon cutting with staff from Our Children’s Place and the school district. In addition to the full-day program, Our Children’s Place offers a half-day UPK program in partnership with the district at a facility in Clifton Springs. Registration for both full- and half-day UPK begins in late winter/early spring.
"As a New York State Quality Stars participant, Our Children’s Place strives to provide the best learning experiences for our children," said McInroy. "Our Children’s Place is thrilled to be able to collaborate with the Midlakes to offer a play space for our UPK children."