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Rochester elementary school requests policy exception to raise money for playground

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Folwell Elementary School is thinking outside the box to raise $60,000 for a new, handicap accessible playground.

“Our current playground at Folwell, there are parts that are no longer available to replace, it’s falling apart,” Folwell Elementary PTSA member Liz Kraichely said.

Earlier in the school year, Folwell PTSA got word from the district that their large play structure on the northern part of the school yard was deemed unsafe and would soon be removed. After much research, and deciding to move the new playground to the northern part of the school yard to connect to the blacktop and concrete, Folwell PTSA determined the price of a new playground: $60,000.

With just 350 students, raising that kind of money requires some creativity.

“Our families, we do a lot of fundraising, ” Kraichely continued. “And that’s already a lot, so we’re looking for outside business support.”

The Folwell Elementary School PTSA is suggesting to put up banners from local businesses on the chain link fence along the north side of the school.

They say it’s their way of thanking them publicly for their financial contribution to the playground.

“We are looking to publicly acknowledge our sponsors by putting their business signs along the fence on 6th Street,” Kraichely said.

However, because the fence is less than 100 feet from the school – and is visible to drivers – it violates an advertisement policy Rochester Public Schools created in 2011.

“According to our policy as it is today, it wouldn’t be allowed because it could be a possible distraction and that its too close to a school building,” RPS Superintendent Michael Muñoz said.

So, the Folwell Elementary PTSA requested to be the exception at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“The current policy keeps it clear and easier to manage,” Muñoz said. “That’s why I told the board I’d rather have an exception of the policy, but that comes with risks too.”

Muñoz says creating an exception can lead to challenges when deciding who can and cannot bend the rules.

Now, the board has a big decision to make.

“If they were to approve this, it would take a lot of burden off of our families to raise the entire amount,” Kraichely said.

That vote is scheduled to take place at next week’s board meeting.

If the district does gives the go ahead, the Folwell PTSA will need to apply for a city permit as well.

Kraichely says there are already a few businesses interested in putting up banners.

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Beret Leone

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