De Soto USD 232’s Countryside to get rubber playground mulch
Recycled tires soon will cushion the fall of children at De Soto USD 232's Countryside Learning Center.
The school district received a $39,171 grant to buy recycled tire material for playground resurfacing at Countryside and Riverview Elementary School.
Tonya Phillips, grant coordinator, said the grant is from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Waste Management, and it is specifically crafted to use recycled Kansas tires.
"The district was kind of wanting to do something with those playgrounds anyway. and I just happened to stumble across this grant," she said. "We just kind of combined forces and here we are."
USD 232 facilities director Denis Johnson said Countryside didn't have the rubber tire mulch found at all the other district playgrounds, and Riverview needed new mulch because of drainage issues.
"We had to go in to fix the drainage and now we have to add some additional mulch to it," he said.
The district found out it received the grant in late July, and signed off on the documentation in early August. Johnson said materials for the playground have been ordered, and that both of them should be complete in September.
In the meantime, the playground area at Riverview is blocked off during recess, Principal Mark Dodge said.
"The positive side is the kids are learning recess games," he said.
Instead of swinging or playing on the playground equipment, the students are involved in kickball, hopscotch and foursquare.
"They're playing a lot of the games I played when I was a kid," he said.
The playground surfacing is recyclable and safe, Johnson said.
"It's highly resilient," he said. "For safety, reasons, the resiliency is higher than wood mulch or pea gravel."
Johnson said tire mulch was more expensive initially than wood mulch, but the cost evened out over time as it doesn't degenerate over time like wood. It's also cleaner, he said.
De Soto's grant from the KDHE Bureau of Waste Management is part of 61 waste tire recycling grants totaling $700,000 awarded to municipalities and school districts across the state. This is the second year of the grant program, which is funded by a 25-cent tax paid on the purchase of new tires. Before this program, grants were awarded to tire processors to purchase equipment to process the tires into a usable raw material.
Most of the grants to schools and municipalities will go toward playground surfacing or picnic tables and benches made form waste tires.
"These efforts have the added benefits of conserving landfill space, encouraging recycling and reducing waste, along with the need for new facilities," KDHE secretary Roderick Bremby said in a news release. "The program is definitely a win-win for Kansas."