- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Overcrowding at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools also extends to the playgrounds.

Elementary schools are required to give students 30 minutes of recess a day. But in the most overcrowded schools, there isn’t enough playground room to let all grades play. So some schools let children play on nearby ball fields or empty lots.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said 64 of their 91 elementary schools are over capacity.

Albemarle Road Elementary is the third-most crowded school in the district. Last school year, principal Tyler Ream says he had to let students play where the buses park.

“That doesn’t work. Not for parents, not for kids,” Ream told The Charlotte Observer (https://bit.ly/1GET1i5 ).

The district built two more playgrounds at the school last summer, which means every students gets to the playground on every day they can play outside, Ream said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are trying to get more playgrounds built. The district is in the second year of a roughly $600,000 grant program to buy more playground equipment at 26 elementary schools.

Some schools are also trying to raise additional money from parents and community groups to get more playground equipment.

Elon Park Elementary School is about 300 students over its 814 child capacity. That means the school needs mobile classrooms, which take away from empty space where the students might otherwise be able to play.

The school is trying to win a $78,000 grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to increase the size of its playground and also the parent-teacher organization is also trying to raise money.

“Our school has grown in leaps and bounds beyond anyone’s expectations,” PTO president and parent Kelly Ludwick said. “I’m actually thrilled that we’ve been able to do this.”

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Information from: The Charlotte Observer, https://www.charlotteobserver.com

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