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Trustee raises concerns over playground maintenance

Jenn Carter would like to see regular maintenance for School District 20's playgrounds, especially the one in Rossland.

The state of the school district’s playgrounds has deteriorated to the extent that one trustee has called for a regular maintenance program to be put into place.

Jenn Carter has asked School District 20 (Kootenay Columbia) to develop a regular maintenance program around its 11 district schools in order to avoid the situation that is now occurring in schools like Rossland Secondary School.

Last year the Ministry of Education gave $50,000 to Rossland for a new playground apparatus, but the year-old equipment is already showing wear far beyond its years, said Carter.

She said already in Rossland there is trouble with the flooring underneath the equipment: It is lifting and there is a grass growing underneath.

The lack of maintenance is wearing out the equipment prematurely and it will need to be replaced long before it needs to, she told the board.

“As long as the history of poor maintenance continues, it is worrisome that already new equipment is having problems because the grounds around them are not being maintained,” she told the board of trustees at a meeting in Blueberry last week.

Although SD20 board chair Darrel Ganzert said the matter will be taken care of, the board of trustees approved a Ministry of Education cash drop of $50,000 for more playground equipment at Twin Rivers Elementary School in Castlegar.

“I would imagine (maintenance) are going to take a look and have some sort of plan for maintenance,” he said. “I’m sure there will be something come of that.”

He said the “high level of concern” shown by Carter and the board would not be overlooked.

The money comes as part of the Ministry of Education’s third and final phase of their $8-million playground equipment program. Phase 3 was allocated to the repair of existing playground equipment.

The ministry had identified Twins Rivers as the only school eligible in SD20 for the funding.

“It concerns me that we are allowing these things to be funded … but there has to be some sort of understanding that they are going to be maintained in a safe and effective manner at the same time,” said Carter.

“If we are going to accept new equipment then we need to try and take care of it the best we can, and there needs to be an understanding that that will take place.

Of the $146,000 from the ministry the board approved with a bylaw, $46,000 will be going back to the Glenmerry Elementary School’s parent’s advisory committee in reimbursement for previous work, and $50,000 for the Rossland playground.

The district had already drawn down the other two amounts, said Natalie Verigin, SD20 secretary treasurer.