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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, Ocotober 27, 2011

Schaffer urges online voting
Playground funds may be just a mouse-click away

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Building a playground can be hard work.

Just ask Mike Schaffer. A physical education teacher at Lynnwood Elementary, he’s beating the drums for a new playground.

“Ours is so ancient,” he said of the 24-year-old playground. When the slide was vandalized, he said, the school discovered that the company that built the original equipment doesn’t make it anymore so a board was placed over the hole.

Most importantly, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Schaffer said, “It’s not ADA compliant.” The new playground will have low-climbing equipment that kids with special needs can access on their own, said Schaffer. Right now, he said, “Those kids need help to use the equipment.”

Fund-raising for the new playground, estimated to cost $125,000, began during the last school year. That cost, he said, is lower than it might be because volunteers will help with labor when it comes time to install equipment. A giant thermometer posted in the school’s main hallway shows that $18,000 has been raised so far.

Schaffer has applied for a $50,000 grant with the Clorox Corporation and is hopeful Lynnwood may win the funds. “We’re competing with only 500 schools across the country,” he said. “So we have a chance.”

Winning the grant depends on getting the most online votes at http://www.powerabrightfuture.com/gallery/detail/?nid=1052.

The Power A Bright Future website depicts a swing set at Lynnwood with mud puddles beneath the swings, and says, “Lynnwood is a great place to work and has a warm caring learning environment for our students. The faculty is just amazing and always pulls together whenever one of us is in need of assistance. We are truly a family.”

The site also says, “We have many students who are physically challenged and some are unable to even use the playground because of its accessibility…. Our PTA is very active in fundraising for our new playground but desperately needs your help. Students need to play, exercise and have fun safely before they get back into the classroom. But all students should be able to play regardless of their physical abilities.”

The voting started on Monday and concludes on Dec. 9. Schaffer started his campaign to garner votes on Monday by not only calling The Enterprise but by soliciting help wherever he could find it.

He coaches junior-varsity girls’ soccer at the high school and his team had a game against Colonie on Monday. In addition to asking his own players to vote, he asked the Colonie coach if he could ask her players, too; she agreed. “The girls all took out their phones and voted,” he said. “The coach even voted.”

He then jumped on the girls’ volleyball team bus and asked them to do the same. Out came the smartphones once again.

The plea is going home to parents as well through the school news notifier, said Schaffer.

People can vote once a day by texting and once a day online, he said.

“The important thing,” concluded Schaffer, “is to keep this up through December ninth. I really feel we have a shot.”

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