First Stratford Landing Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va., didn’t have a climbing gym in its playground. Then it did, after parents spent months raising $35,000. Then it didn’t again, after administrators decided to shut it down on the grounds that climbing on monkey bars might be hazardous to kids’ health.
MailOnline reports that parents of children enrolled in the school consulted “with authorities to ensure the site met required standards,” adding:
But before a child could set foot in the playground, [the school’s] authorities performed a last-minute U-turn and deemed it to be a hazard.
Bright yellow caution tape now festoons the apparatus to warn off any children.
Not to worry, though. The 870 pupils in the school will have their play space yet. But it won’t cost anywhere near $35,000. The district has pledged to spend about $135,000 from the county’s coffers to replace the equipment with a safe alternative.
Parents, who funded the project and hired a contractor — all done under the watchful eye of the school’s administration — are dumbstruck by the decision. They argue that same equipment is installed at more than 1,200 parks and schools across the country. They also argue that it’s a waste of taxpayer money to tear down the extant equipment and replace it with its functional equivalent at many times the original cost.
But John Torre, a spokesman for the school, told the Washington Post:
Unfortunately, the playground equipment purchased by the PTA does not meet FCPS safety standards. We are currently working with school officials to consider options to upgrade and renovate the entire school playground.
Assuming the first part of Torre’s statement is true, why didn’t the administration speak up sooner?