Woodfin Elementary's new playground equipment funded by anonymous donors; School Board OKs

Asheville Citizen-Times
Asheville Citizen-Times

Woodfin Elementary's playground will be receiving several new pieces of equipment after the Buncombe County Board of Education approved a $167,850.47 purchase order with Playworld Preferred, a commercial playground distributor based in Huntersville.

None of the money for the project came from Buncombe County Schools, spokesperson Stacia Harris said. Anonymous private donors gifted the money to the school system for the playground, but the purchase still needed to be approved by the school board. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 23, before the vote, but actual construction will not start until April, she said.

"(Buncombe County Schools) will need to manage the construction and design, and those donations need to go through us to facilitate the purchase of everything and ensure permitting and code compliance are all done properly," Harris told the Citizen Times Dec. 14.

The board unanimously approved the purchase with no discussion, except for a clarification that this money was already allocated and not new spending.

Currently, students at Woodfin Elementary all share a relatively small playground, but the new equipment will expand it considerably. The new equipment, according to the approved purchase order, will be:

The rest of the cost of the project will go to installation of the equipment, which will cost $44,100.

"In order to get equipment in as soon as possible and avoid manufacturers' price increases, the order must be placed now," a recommended motion for the purchase of the playground equipment to the school board says. "Selections have been made by the principle and the fundraising committee."

The school district also received a 10% discount because it is buying through the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Contract, a network of over 50,000 government, education and nonprofit organizations that helps to lower purchasing prices from its participating suppliers, according to its website.

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According to a post on Buncombe County Schools' Facebook page, the project's donors originally planned to raise only around $200,000, but ended up raising over $328,000 through a number of summer fundraising events.

"The school did not plan any of the fundraisers, the donors managed that," Harris said. "The school was sent checks over the course of several months with most of the money given this summer. In previous years, other smaller donations were given for a new playground."

The donors wish to remain anonymous, she said, so that she could not provide any information about who they could be.

"They love Woodfin and are committed to enhancing students’ experience at this special school," Harris said.

The playground will also be open to the public when school is not in session, she said.

"As long as the space remains clean and cared for, we’d have no issues with the public using the space," she said.

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In addition to the equipment that will be purchased through Playworld Preferred, the school system plans to use the extra money to pay for a walking track, an ADA-compliant ramp from the upper school level to the playground level and a slide from the ramp onto the play area, the post says.

"Given supply chain issues, we have to be flexible in what we ultimately are able to purchase and install," Harris said.

The project is set to be completed by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, according to the Facebook post.

Christian Smith is the general assignment reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times. Questions or comments? Contact him at or 828-274-2222.

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