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The Bureau of Municipal Affairs, Department of Internal Affairs of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, established by law, at Harrisburg, Pa., in 1919, has given assistance to many small and some large municipalities. This bureau permitted by law to employ landscape architects and upon request from municipal authorities these specialists not only inspect proposed park and playground plans, but also prepare plans and specifications. This assistance is provided for municipalities without cost so that all local appropriations for park and playground purposes may be expended entirely on the improvements without reserving any amount for preliminary studies.
At the present time landscape architects and planners are working on plans for 22 playgrounds and 4 parks, and planting plans for a dozen school yards located in various sections of the State.
Among the publications of the department of internal affairs of the bureau of municipal affairs may be mentioned: The Planning and Beautification of School Grounds (mimeographed circular of information, March, 1928, 21 pp.) and The Recreational Environment of the Child (mimeographed circular, January, 1928, 12 pp.). In general, the State department of public instruction and the bureau of municipal affairs recognize the fact that comprehensive general city planning for the present needs and future growth of any city must take into consideration the fact that ample space must be provided for school yards not merely for present needs, but also for future growth.
South Carolina.—The State department of education issued in 1924 a publication, Rural School Improvement Bulletin, containing suggestions for improvement of school yards. It is also required by this State that all plans and specifications for new school buildings shall be submitted to and approved by the State board of education. In 1921 special legislation was enacted whereby certain funds were appropriated which would be available for districts in which new schools were to be erected. Among the conditions which districts had to meet in order to be eligible for receiving funds from this appropriation (State aid) was the provision of 4 acres or more as a minimum for a school site. (General School Laws of South Carolina, 1921, p. 9, sec. 1763, par. 2.)
Texas.-In 1923, the State department of education issued a bulletin entitled "School Grounds, School Buildings and Their Equipment.” During that same year special legislation was enacted by the thirty-eighth legislature (September 1, 1923, to August 31, 1925) which provided for an appropriation to be used to aid rural schools. One and one-half million dollars, for the year ending August 31, 1924, and one and one-half million dollars for the year ending August 31, 1925, were appropriated. Among the conditions which had to be met by rural schools in order to be eligible, to receive State aid, the first one included a "plot of ground not less than 1 acre." (Public School Laws of Texas, 1929. Chap. XV, sec. 347, par. 1, p. 119.)
Furthermore, in order to encourage consolidation of small schools, provision was included in the aforementioned enactment whereby a special appropriation could be secured from the State department of education for each rural consolidation effected during the biennium ending August 31, 1925. Among the conditions which had to be met by consolidated districts in order to be eligible to receive this special appropriation may be mentioned: “A total population not exceeding 500; a rural high school having at least 4 teachers; and a location of not less than 5 acres of land.”
In 1926 the State Department of Education of Texas published a pamphlet entitled “Texas Rural School Standards (Bulletin No. 216)." This bulletin included definite requirements regarding the areas required for schools of various enrollments.
Vermont.-In 1927, an act was passed by the General Assembly to appropriate $5,000 for a community schoolhouse fund. The act provided that when a community raised money otherwise than by taxation for the purpose of furnishing and improving their school building or grounds, an equal amount of money, but not in excess of $100 in any one year, to be known as a community schoolhouse fund, be supplied by the State to the school district owning said school building. The sum of $5,000 was appropriated for each of the fiscal years ending June 30, 1928, and June 30, 1929.
Washington.—The State course of study compiled and printed in 1927 for the State department of education contains suggested minimum standard areas and equipment for school yards.
West Virginia.-While the “Topography of the State makes a general law inadvisable," the county superintendent is required to approve sites for school grounds. Many will not approve less than 1 acre. The West Virginia State manual of physical education foi rural schools contains suggestions for playgrounds for rural schools.
Wisconsin.-A pamphlet, Rural School Standards, published in 1925 by the State department of education, contains a few suggestions regarding the layout and equipment of school playgrounds.
Wyoming.-In 1919 a conference was called by the Commissioner of Education of Wyoming, known as the better-school conference, for the purpose of drawing up standards for rural schools. The standards adopted at this time were somewhat revised in 1921, and published in the form of a bulletin entitled “Wyoming Standard Rural Schools." Any school which meets the requirements mentioned in this bulletin may qualify as a standard school and be
presented with a shield bearing the words, “Wyoming Standard School.” Among the requirements of a standard Wyoming rural school may be mentioned the following:
Playground: (a) Adequate equipment, such as playground balls, bats, volley balls, bean bags, etc. (No expensive apparatus is required or recommended.)
(6) Property supervised: Teachers must actively and in person supervise not less than 30 minutes daily. Whenever children can not be on the playgrounds, teachers must supervise play inside the building for 30 minutes.
Furthermore, it is stated in this bulletin that as a general rule the playground should not contain less than 1 acre.
For a larger school, several acres are needed. (Wyoming Standard Rural Schools. Bulletin No. 2, Series B. State Board of Education, Laramie, Wyo., 1921.)
Progress in cities. Substantial progress has been made throughout the country in the matter of providing large playgrounds for schools. In general, the annual report of the boards of education of city public schools, along with numerous recreational surveys, carried on in various cities by school and municipal recreational agencies, show that many school sites have been acquired which are not merely sufficient for the present needs but also provide for future growth and congestion of population in school districts.
The following excerpt from the Twenty-Fourth Annual Report of the Superintendent of Schools of Denver, Colo., includes a brief review of a 4-year period (1923-1927):
PURCHASE OF ADDITIONAL SITES AND PLAYGROUNDS
During the 4-year period from 1923 to 1927, it has been necessary to purchase a number of sites for new schools. Some of these sites have been purchased in anticipation of future needs. It has been found that it costs much less to purchase an unimproved site in advance of the development of a certain section of the city than it does to wait until a neighborhood is built up, when an adequate site properly located can be secured only by the purchase of improved property. A block of ground at the edge of population may be purchased for amounts ranging from $3,500 to $10,000, depending on the locality.
To secure an adequate playground and site for the Ebert School in an old section of the city required the expenditure of $103,586.76. This illustrates the difference between foresight and hindsight in the operation of schools.
One of the greatest needs which the schools have found is that of increasing the playground space at the older buildings. Additional playground has been purchased for 24 of the older schools with the result that there is now no school in Denver that does not have at least some kind of a playground, although in a number of instances the space is still inadequate.
Furthermore, in 1929, a special study made by the Denver Planning Commission proposes to set up a comprehensive plan of development. The study presents a general outline of the recreational needs of small children, school children, and adults. It includes a complete
survey of the facilities, available at this time, including 27 school playgrounds which are being used for municipal recreation. It proposes an elaborate plan for future development which will afford equal opportunities for all children in the city. Whereas at the present time 23 school playgrounds are used for municipal recreation, it is suggested that additional school playgrounds be acquired so that 80 school grounds will be available for similar use.
Trenton, N. J.-A new junior high school adjoining an elementary school has been provided with 11 acres. A new high school is under construction which has been provided with 34 acres. The building will take up about 14 acres, leaving about 20 acres for playground and athletic purposes. In addition it has been planned that three new junior high schools will have sites of from 6 to 8 acres each, allowing from 4 to 6 acres for play fields.
Winston-Salem, N. C.-In 1918 the school board passed a resolution that no school should be built thereafter on less than 10 acres of land. Ten schools erected in the city since that time, have 265 acres of playground. One high school has 75 acres, of which 50 acres are devoted to a playground, athletic field, and park. The entire program of physical education activities and summer playground activities are carried on under the board of education.
Toledo, Ohio.--Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars were spent recently in enlarging play spaces around old schools. The new Libbey High School has a site of 36 acres.
About two-thirds of the space is devoted to playgrounds. A new high school under construction at this time has an acreage of 26%2 acres. Of this amount about 8 are reserved for playgrounds.
Portland, Oreg.-The city park department recently has established several small parks adjoining several elementary schools and school children enjoy these areas during recess periods. Furthermore, additional plans have been made which will provide for the recreational needs, 50 years to come. According to these plans there will be available at that time, 100 square feet of playing space for every child.
Harrisburg, Pa.-The two downtown high schools which formerly lacked indoor and outdoor space have been moved out into the east and west side of the town. Each school has been provided not only with gymnasiums and swimming pools, but also with play areas of 38 and 45 acres, respectively.
Dallas, Tex.—The school board and the park board are cooperating in the work of providing proper play facilities at the least possible cost. In view of the fact that the location of the school is usually the center of population of the district, the school board has joined the park board in purchasing the property adjacent to schools. Eight or ten playgrounds have been located, either adjoining or across the street from the schools. The school board permits the use of its entire recreational equipment by the park board and the latter has provided many special layouts, including football fields, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, and golf courses which are available for the school pupils.
San Angelo, Tex.-All schools have been provided with an area of two blocks and two schools have been provided with 10-acre plots.
Port Arthur, Tex.-Two junior high schools have been built recently. One of these, the Woodrow Wilson Junior High School, has been provided with 10 acres. The other, the Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, has been provided with 15 acres.
Seattle, Wash.-In 1928 a special study of the recreational facilities was made at the request of Mayor Bertha K. Landes. The study was made by a special committee, including two members of the park board, and two members of the school board. It was brought out in this study that slightly less than 1 per cent of the total land area is occupied by playground property under the school and park boards. There is 1 acre of recreational space for every 193 people. It is estimated that the amount of play space per child is about 136 square feet. Of this space 66 square feet are provided by the school board and 70 square feet are provided by the park board.
A special report of the National Conference of City Planning, published in 1926 contains the following information regarding the acquisition of large areas for elementary, junior high, and high schools in various cities throughout the country.
Large sites have been acquired for elementary schools in the following cities:
A 12-acre site in Long Beach, Calif.; an 1874-acre site in New Britain, Conn.; a 10-acre site in Chicago, Ill.; thirty-seven 5-acre sites in Chicago, Ill.; a 12-acre site in Richmond, Ind.; an 18.7-acre site in Leavenworth, Kans.; a 36-acre site in Flint, Mich.; two 11-acre sites in Omaha, Nebr.; two 10-acre sites in North Tonawanda, N. Y.; a 14-acre site in Greensboro, N. C.; a 30-acre site in Winston-Salem, N. C.; two 10-acre sites in Columbus, Ohio; a 14-acre site in Houston, Tex.
Large sites have been acquired for junior high schools in the following cities:
A 19-acre site in Fresno, Calif.; a 22-acre site in Riverside, Calif.; a 12-acre site in Pueblo, Colo.; a 10-acre site in Chicago, Ill.; a 1742-acre site in Grand Rapids, Mich.; an 11-acre site in Flint, Mich.; a 13-acre site in Lansing, Mich., a 15-acre site in Jamestown, N. Y.; a 15-acre site in Charlotte, N. C.
Large sites have been acquired for senior high schools in the following cities:
A 30-acre site in Fresno, Calif.; a 50-acre site in Palo Alto, Calif.; a 40-acre site in Redwood, Calif.; a 42-acre site in Santa Barbara, Calif.; a 68-acre site in Denver, Colo.; a 20-acre site in Tampa, Fla.; a 28-acre site in Augusta, Ga.; a 67-acre site in Wichita, Kans.; a 15-acre site in Alexandria, La.; a 43-acre site in Flint, Mich.; a 25-acre site in Omaha, Nebr.; a 75-acre site in Winston-Salem, N. C.; a 40-acre site in Cincinnati, Ohio.