In an effort to improve playground programs and safety, St. Paul is hiring a private company to supervise recess at seven elementary schools.When I was in elementary school, recess consisted of us kids being released onto an asphalt parking lot to blow off energy on our own. That was where I was first threatened with bodily harm by another fifth-grader if I did a certain thing again ("thanks, John (who has undoubtedly forgotten all about this) for teaching me a valuable life lesson...").
The district Tuesday night approved paying Playworks, a national nonprofit, $178,500, or $25,500 per school for a full-time staff member who will chaperone recess, teach children conflict-resolution skills and build a "junior coach" team. Playworks, a 15-year-old nonprofit with programs at 250 schools in 30 cities, actually charges $60,000 per school, but the company has helped the schools get grants and donations to offset more than half the cost.
In addition to monitoring play at recess, Playworks also helps create an after-school program or help with an existing one, as well as jump-start basketball and volleyball leagues for schools. "It's a proven program in a large number of urban areas... There have been far fewer incidents coming out of recess. It's going very well for us. It's certainly an effective and efficient use of our dollars."
Re the financial aspects and rationale for outsourcing this activity, I'm at a loss and have no background to offer commentary. Those of you in the education field, please feel free to chime in.