East Austin school raising funds after fire destroys playground


Highlights

A playground at Winn Elementary school burned on Aug. 1.

Investigators believe the fire was intentionally set.

Winn Elementary School in East Austin is trying to raise money for sports equipment and outdoor games after a fire destroyed the school’s playground on Aug. 1.

An EdBacker.com fundraising campaign launched after Austin fire officials said damage to the playground was so severe that it was deemed unsafe and fenced off.

The school is asking the public to help it raise $20,000 in donations.

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“In an effort to continue to offer opportunities for outdoor play, Winn is asking for community support to rebuild the playscape and purchase equipment such as jump ropes, soccer balls and bean bag games to encourage student activity during outdoor play despite the lack of a play structure,” the fundraising webpage said.

According to the webpage, the school has raised more than $3,000 so far.

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The Austin school district’s chief financial officer, Nicole Conley Johnson, said the district is grateful for the support.

“While the fire was an unfortunate incident, we are encouraged by the spirit of partnership demonstrated in our community, which understands that districtwide needs greatly exceed the funding available to address them,” Johnson said. “The district is constantly struggling to keep up with the replacement of outdated or damaged playscapes. An unforeseen incident like this only adds pressure to the mounting facility needs. These donations will help the district make progress in addressing the overwhelming facility challenges across the district.”

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Austin fire Capt. Andy Reardon said the Winn playground was not the only one that has burned in the school district in the past few months. A fire at the end of April destroyed another playground at Oak Springs Elementary on Webberville Road.

Reardon said the fires at Oak Springs and Winn appear to have been intentionally set.

“That’s a little concerning, but we don’t have any evidence to show that they are related,” Reardon said.

Reardon said the investigation into the fire at Oak Springs was closed out without an arrest, and authorities haven’t received any tips or leads related to the fire at Winn.



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