Parents raise $35,000 for school playground climbing frame, which is promptly shut down by health & safety inspectors
Feb 11, 2013, 3:09 PM EDT
We called them jungle gyms: today they’re known as climbing frames, I guess. At any rate, a parents group in Fairfax County, Va., raised $35,000 to buy and install a new one at Stratford Landing Elementary School, working with the school facilities department to ensure it met all codes and conditions. But just after it was opened at recess, school district safety inspectors swooped in and declared the equipment unsafe. It now has police caution tape draped on it and is off limits.
Not only that, but the school district says it’s going to spend $135,000 to replace it and upgrade the entire playground, according to the Washington Post.
Parents are not amused.
“We have $35,000 wrapped up in caution tape,” said Eleanor Whitaker, mother of second- and sixth-graders at Stratford Landing, in the Alexandria section of Fairfax, near Mount Vernon.
“Funding a new playground is costing taxpayer money,” Whitaker said. “It would be a tremendous waste of money to pull the equipment out.”
So we spend $165,000 of taxpayer’s money to complete a $35,000 job, all because of poor communication? Yes, kids, that’s the American way.
In a written report, the inspector found that among other safety issues, parts of the structure were too tall. One part of the equipment is 94 inches above the ground, 10 inches higher than the school system allows. The report said that deviating from the school system’s playground protocols “places users at an increased life-safety risk” and that the Evos system could lead to head injuries and neck entrapment. “The equipment should be removed from the property,” according to the report.
I suggest encasing all the children in bubble wrap during recess, and have a teacher gently roll them around the playground until the bell rings.
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