Brinley Wisowaty, 6, tries out the new climbing bridge installed on the renovated playground at Walworth Elementary School, a project made possible by a combination of taxpayer dollars and private donations. (Photo by Chris Schultz/Regional News)

WALWORTH — The playground at Walworth Elementary School is looking newer and brighter.

The school district has launched a $15,000 restoration and upgrade of the playground, using a combination of school district funds and private donations.

The district started seeking donations last year to pay for upgrades to a playground that was 20 years old.

The slides, swings, teeter totter and more had amused and exercised youngsters both during recess and after school.

The school serves about 480 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. But the playground also serves other children in the community, too.

That is what it is important to keep it in good working order, Principal Phill Klamm said.

Inspectors last year determined that the equipment was showing some wear. Buying new was out of the question, however, because of an estimated price tag of $100,000.

The district originally estimated it would need $37,000 to renovate the aging playground.

But the district saved $6,000 by having the work done by school maintenance staff. The district also was thrifty about buying only pieces to replace equipment that had wear and tear.

“It’s pieces that needed to be switched out,” Klamm said. “Worn pieces were replaced with new pieces.”

Additional funds were saved by delaying installation of a new base beneath the playground equipment. The base acts as a container for the wood chips that line the floor of the playground.

A fresh layer of wood chips will be added in fall, Klamm said.

The most noticeable change is that a bridge was removed and replaced with a set of bars that the kids can climb on and swing from.

Two large platforms had yet to be installed, but were expected soon.

For the project, the school district was able to pull $5,821 out of its budget to help pay for the playground improvements.

The rest of the money came from donations from local businesses and parents.

Peter Kahl, a second-grade teacher, went to local businesses and organizations asking for donations for two to three months.

“I went to all of our community businesses and asked them to help us,” Kahl said.

All told, the local businesses and the Walworth-Fontana Rotary Club donated $5,075.

Kahl said the school is still installing parts and platforms that make up the playground, but the work should be completed soon.

“We’re happy that the community supported us,” he said. “It’s a much safer place for the kids to play on now. It’s a nice place to play.”

The Walworth Parents’ Club donated $4,783.

Most of the donation came out of money the Walworth Parents’ Club raises through a box top refund program called Box Tops for Education.

Parents’ Club members and Walworth students collect box top coupons from boxes of cereal and yogurt containers, and the club redeems them for 10 cents each from participating companies, like General Mills.

“That was all our box top money,” club treasurer Rebecca Roehl said. “We need to refill our box top fund.”

In addition, the club donated another $984 toward the project that came out of a donation made two years ago by the Walworth Elementary School’s eighth-grade class.

The Parents’ Club also buys teacher classroom supplies and pays for field trips.

Its next big fundraiser will be a rummage sale Aug. 2 and 3 that coincides with the Walworth Corn and Brat Festival.

Klamm put the total cost of the playground project at $15,680.

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Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.