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Kids get indoor space to play after school

The county parks department expects to have a new recreation building finished by the end of summer for Carrollwood Elementary's after-school program.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- Children who attend the after-school program at Carrollwood Elementary School can look forward to a new recreation building with a play room big enough for indoor games.

The $345,000 project should be finished by next summer, in time for the 2003-2004 school year, said Joel Jackson, who designs park facilities for the county parks and recreation department.

The county has offered an after-school program at Carrollwood Elementary for several years and already has a building at the school. But that building has no restrooms and is only large enough to store equipment.

"We are replacing the old building with a new one to update the program," Jackson said, adding that the 3,300 square foot facility should hold up to 100 children. "All we are trying to do is make it a better program for the kids who already go there."

School principal Jan King said 60 children were enrolled in Carrollwood Elementary's after-school program last year. She said although the parks department is responsible for the program, children are sheltered inside the school when it rains.

"This building will give the children the benefit of being inside and outside," King said. "It gives them a place to get out of the sun and the storms."

The parks department operates 42 after-school programs in the county, 80 percent of which have recreation buildings, Jackson said.

Parents pay $50 a year for the county's after-school programs. Jackson Springs Park and Winston Park, near Progress Village, also offer Boys & Girls Club programs, which cost $100 a year and include bus transportation.

In the last seven or eight years, Jackson said the county has built about 15 new buildings, including one at Town 'N Country Elementary, which was finished this year, and one under construction at Mort Elementary School, which also should be ready for the 2003-2004 school year.

There are five recreation buildings planned for construction this year, including one in the Country Place subdivision off Hutchison Road and one planned for the Westchase community next to Westchase Elementary School.

Parks and Recreation operates the after-school programs through an agreement with the Hillsborough County School Board. The recreation buildings are funded by impact fees that developers pay to receive permits.

Parks and Recreation director Ed Radice said the county has offered after school programs for more than 30 years and the programs have gotten high marks from parents who have been surveyed.

"We find that it has been a big benefit for people in the county," Radice said. "They have a safe place for their children to go, especially nowadays with either single parents or both parents working."

- Tim Grant can be reached at 269-5311 or at grant@sptimes.com.

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