While discussing the budget for the upcoming year at a Thursday meeting, School Board member Daryl Flynn floated an idea past the rest of the board – sun shades for school playgrounds, to protect children from possibly harmful sun exposure.

The sun shades, she said, are mesh screens that hang over the playgrounds. That will protect children from melanoma and other potential harmful side effects from overexposure to the sun.

The questions in the air before the idea can go further involve how the board would pay for the sun-shades, as they would have to be installed at every playground at every school.

Flynn said the idea came from a request from a Lake Nona resident who’d heard more and more about the need for sun-shades.

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said one consideration would have to be the cost of getting sun shades for schools with multiple playgrounds and multiple classes outside at recess at the same time.

“We can look into what it would cost to have sun shades over both play lots,” she said. “It wouldn’t be good to have them over only those areas and have the rest of the students out in the sun, if they’re all out at the same time with only one class at the top lot.”

Board member Kathleen Gordon said she liked the idea and it could have potential for spotlighting companies who have donated to OCPS.

“We could market this and get names out there,” she said. “We could see who is really interested in helping the schools.”

Board chair Bill Sublette said he thought the cost would be too much, so he wasn’t a fan of the idea as it stood.

“You want to know a really cheap option?” he said. “There’s no subsitute for a good old fashioned oak tree. Nothing gives kids shade more than that.”

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