School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
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Raising awareness

It is extremely important to involve caretaking and office staff in every stage of the project. Invite them to presentations, staff meetings and parent council meetings.

Knowledge of the grounds and school community

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Photo: Karen Spinney-Helmer
The support of the caretakers is invaluable because they know every square inch of the grounds and their management requirements, and the demands placed upon them, better than anyone else. The support staff will be well- acquainted with the parents, the activities of the parent council, school committees and after-hours activities. They will also be involved with some administrative work related to your project such as making and receiving phone calls, keeping records, writing letters and typing reports.

Health and safety

Research shows that half of school accidents occur in the school yard. As the environmental quality of the yard is improved and children are provided with more options for play and social interaction, school yard accidents decrease. Caretaking staff can help identify problem areas and the office staff who have to deal with children's injuries can also supply you will useful details.

Management of the grounds

The school board grounds management staff can also be asked to provide their ideas for transforming the grounds and offer advice regarding the appropriate location for certain projects according to their grounds management needs such as mowing, snow clearing and access and turning space for delivery and emergency vehicles.

History of grounds

Ask the caretaking staff about changes that have been made to the grounds in the past. Even if the staff have worked at the school for only a short time they may be able to put you in touch with former employees who may have transferred to another school. You can also contact the school board's manager of caretaking staff. It is important to find out about the history of the grounds because past changes can affect your plans. For example: foundation walls remaining in the ground from previous built structures and packed gravel or concrete pads constructed for portable classrooms can affect drainage and restrict healthy root growth.

After hours

Ask the staff who work evenings, weekends and during school vacations for information on the community's after-hours use of the grounds throughout the year. They should be able to pinpoint problems areas where undesirable activities and vandalism take place.

Spreading the word

Ask your care staff to spread the word to their counterparts in other schools. School grounds greening projects are sometimes initiated by care staff.

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