Mayor Richard M. Daley today, along with 26th Ward Alderman Billy Ocasio, representatives from Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Public Building Commission (PBC) and members of the community, officially dedicated the new Campus Park at Frederick Funston Elementary School, 2010 N. Central Park Ave.
“People typically envision an elementary school surrounded by concrete and asphalt playgrounds and parking lots. Our campus parks program grew out of the unconventional idea that we can surround our schools with green, open spaces filled with grass, trees and flowers,” said Mayor Daley. “We are essentially building parks on the grounds of our schools that work to improve the quality of life for our children and teachers at the school as well as the entire community.”
The Funston Campus Park, built by the Public Building Commission, is equipped with two playgrounds, one for kindergarten through third grade and the other for fourth grade through eighth grade. Other amenities include a multipurpose playing field, benches, new walkways, ornamental lighting, wrought iron fencing, and new trees, shrubs and perennials. Additionally, McLean Street was made into a cul-de-sac to prevent unauthorized vehicles from access through the street. The total cost of the project was $1.3 million.
“The more that we improve the leaning environment at our schools, the more our kids will improve in the classroom,” said Chief Education Officer Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins. “Campus parks provide a safe area for children to spend their time and participate in activities during and after school.”
The Campus Parks program is a $50 million joint effort between the Public Building Commission, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District to build 100 new campus parks all across the city.
The parks are meant to serve not only as a playground for children, but also as community centers that entire neighborhoods can enjoy. The Campus Park Program began in 1997 and projects are still being planned.
“Together, the PBC, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District are working to make our campus park program vision a reality,” said PBC Executive Director Kevin Gujral. “By adding open, green space to a school campus, we are providing a resource for residents in the community.”
The Chicago Public Schools is the nation’s third-largest school district and second-largest employer in Illinois, with more than 46,000 employees. The school system operates 602 schools and serves 438,000 students.