Milwaukee School Playground Is Designed To Manage Stormwater & Create Outdoor Classroom

Sourced from WUWM

The story of Starms Early Childhood isn't unique in Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Public Schools' building at 36th and Burleigh Streets is more than 100 years old and until recently, its playground was dominated by asphalt.

But that’s about to change thanks to a green infrastructure project.

Lisa Misky can't wait. She's taught at Starms for 21 years. Over the years, she and her colleagues gradually added some green to the children's world. They put in a perennial garden bed in the front with the help of small grants.

“We just got raised garden beds a couple of years ago to do farm-to-table. The kids absolutely love that because they’re harvesting their own fruit and vegetables and then we’re using it in the classrooms,” Misky says.

But all of that life was at the front of the school. The back — where “play” was supposed to happen — remained a vast, sometimes very hot, sea of asphalt. Misky says occasionally when a heavy rain storm hit, stormwater filled the school’s basement.

“We have a huge heat scape that would collect so much water, we were flooding everywhere. So, we were having to evacuate. To take 300 3, 4 and 5 year olds off campus, it’s not safe and it’s not fun," she says.

Misky and her colleagues started dreaming about replacing the asphalt with an outdoor classroom. They formed a green team and started sketching. While Misky's creative, she says she couldn’t imagine how her school would come up with the money to make the plan a reality.

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