One of the things that impresses me about New Bedford Light's Jack Spillane is that he takes a routine subject and raises points and questions that should make all of us think.

He did it again recently when he wrote about committees of volunteers holding fundraisers to build new playgrounds at public schools in New Bedford. Routine, right? Not to Spillane.

For many years, funding to upgrade school playgrounds was included in the school budget that the entire community paid for, but recently, schools seeking to install state-of-the-art playgrounds have enlisted the help of staff members, parents and friends of the school to raise money for their projects.

During his visit this week to Townsquare Sunday, Spillane wondered aloud how this trend started, and whether school departments will ever pick up the full tab for playground upgrades again.

Courtesy New Bedford Public Schools
Courtesy New Bedford Public Schools

There are currently two fundraising campaigns we know of in New Bedford schools: one at the Hathaway Elementary School (above) and the other at Carney Academy.

Spillane is not disparaging the dedicated principals, teachers, parents and others organizing those fundraisers – more power to them, he says – but the New Bedford Light columnist does question if fundraisers for playgrounds are the wave of the future?

In a recent column, he described it as "another example of the trend toward user fees for government services that have previously been thought of as publicly funded by the whole population."

Assistant Superintendent Andrew O'Leary told Spillane that the school department will contribute to the playground upgrades. However, considering the cost of state-of-the art playgrounds today – some in the vicinity of six figures – you can expect the fundraising to continue for awhile.

Spillane also talked about the Pocasset Tribe in Fall River and their fight to acquire land that was promised to them years and years ago. It's a story you'll be reading about for awhile.

Jack Spillane's Townsquare Sunday interview can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a public affairs program heard Sunday mornings at 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on 1420 AM and 99.5 FM. The hour-long program features interviews with individuals and organizations working to make the SouthCoast a better place to live.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, e-mail the host at

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