When construction breaks ground at Brook Park School in LaGrange Park on a major classroom addition later this month, students there will find themselves without an outdoor playground at least until the project is completed in the fall of 2019.

In the meantime, parent volunteers in the Brook Park Council are hoping to raise $100,000 to fund the design and installation of a brand new playground on the south end of the school campus.

While the BPC has held a couple of small fundraising events, on May 4 students launched the first major event – a walkathon – where individual classes took turns heading outside to walk laps around Yena Park, just across the street from Brook Park.

As of late last week, the walkathon had raised $35,000 and the BPC is planning additional fundraisers in the future. The next big event will be the inaugural BPC golf outing on June 24, from which the council hopes to raise at least $5,000.

Kate Amin, recording secretary of the BPC, said they hope to maintain the golf outing as an annual event, with proceeds from 2018 and 2019 going toward the playground fund.

Other potential fundraisers over the next year include another walkathon, an adult social and a Lego building party for students.

Presently Brook Park School, which serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade in Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95, has a playground structure on a bed of woodchips at the southeast corner of the school property. The playground area sits amid a sea of asphalt marked with areas for playing ball, four-square and running races.

With the expansion of Brook Park School, the district’s early childhood education program for kids ages 3 to 5 will move over from S.E. Gross Middle School. As a result, said Amin, the goal is to install two playground structures – one geared toward ages 3-5 and another for kids 6-12.

The BPC would also like to install an ADA-accessible, rubberized playing surface instead of woodchips. The estimated cost of the playground equipment is in the neighborhood of $70,000, with installation another 36 to 40 percent of that number.

And that figure does not include the rubberized ground cover for the playground, which, according to District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski, could cost as much as the structures.

As part of the multimillion expansion plan, District 95 has included a $75,000 line item in the project budget for replacing the Brook Park playground. Funds raised by the BPC will be in addition to that figure.

“The BPC’s money will help that space become more grand than it otherwise would have been,” said Kuzniewski. “Even if they raise three-quarters of their goal, we’ll have a phenomenal place for our kids to play.”

Parent volunteers hope to have the $100,000 raised by the spring of 2019, so that the playground can be installed as construction wraps up that summer and be ready in time for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Anyone who would like to donate money for the walkathon can do so online by visiting pledgestar.com/brookpark. 

To simply make a donation to the BPC’s playground fund, you can do so online at squareup.com/store/BrookParkCouncil/item/playground-donation.

This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Yena Park.

Public invited to D95 groundbreaking

Officials in Brookfield-LaGrange School District 95 are inviting school parents and the public to mark the beginning of major expansion and renovation projects during groundbreaking ceremonies at its two schools on May 24, the final day of classes for 2017-18.

The groundbreaking ceremony at Brook Park School, 1214 Raymond Ave. in LaGrange Park, will run from 9 to 9:30 a.m. outside the school building. 

Before leaving for summer vacation, however, students there will be able to write their names on the walls of the school slated to be demolished to make way for the new classroom/gymnasium addition.

Officials will then head over to S.E. Gross Middle school, 3524 Maple Ave. in Brookfield, for a ground breaking ceremony there from 10:30 to 11 a.m.

According to Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski, asbestos abatement at Brook Park School will take place beginning May 29, with exterior demolition commencing in early June.

Principal Ryan Evans said middle school students will also be signing their names on a wall that will be encapsulated by construction, preserving the signatures for a future generation to find.

Demolition of the former auditorium/industrial arts wing inside S.E. Gross has already started. That wing will house a ground-floor "cafetorium" and two floors of classrooms to house music instruction and a new STEM lab. A new gymnasium also will be added to the S.E. Gross campus.

The combined $35 million construction effort is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2019-20 school year.