- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) - Edmond elementary schoolchildren with disabilities could be able to join their peers on the playground by the start of this coming school year, according to a top district leader.

An area contractor has begun work on six playgrounds in the district, according to Associate Superintendent Bret Towne. He told The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/1Nnu5QL ) he would like the $450,000 project to be completed before the school year begins on Aug. 20.

“We are hopeful the project can stay on schedule,” said Towne, who will take over as district superintendent on Wednesday.

Playgrounds will be upgraded with improvements such as accessible ramps and pathways.

A seventh campus that opens in August has an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant playground as part of its design.

The district is using funding from a $90.6 million February bond package that includes a football stadium renovation and installing safe rooms at each campus to protect children from tornadoes or other severe weather.

District spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp said officials want the playgrounds to be ADA-compliant. She said each school had input on the designs.

“The site principals were very instrumental in helping to decide the layout and the design elements that would best suit their particular student population,” she said.

The school board in May voted to approve the work and said all playgrounds in the district should be ADA-compliant by the summer of 2016.

The owner of the Edmond-based contractor that was awarded the improvement project touted the importance of accessibility.

“Children with physical and emotional challenges seldom have the opportunity to utilize the same playground as the other kids,” said Shan Shepherd, Noah’s Park & Playgrounds owner. “Oftentimes, these kids cannot get onto playground equipment.”

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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