The playground for the youngest students at Alex Hope Elementary was condemned by inspectors and will be demolished, leaving the kindergarten to Grade 3 students with few recess options.
Until its removed, the playground will remain behind fences after a Township inspector closed it Sept. 19.
"Recess the kids were on it. Lunch the kids were off it," said Brie Walmsley, with the PAC fundraising committee.
The move blindsided the school's parent advisory council.
"We had no warning," Walmsley said.
At the end of last school year, the PAC was starting to talk about replacement, because the school district maintenance department provided a brief report of problems at the site.
The PAC expected to have two to three years to raise the money and obtain estimates and designs.
"It was a year or two away," commented Bobbi Dalal, the PAC book fair coordinator.
The two say the playground is slated for demolition in late September with no plans for replacement by the school district.
The structure, about 18 years old, was inspected in February 2012, explained Langley School District communications manager Sandy Wakeling.
He noted the school is adapting with the structure unavailable to primary students.
"Senior students have also taken on a leadership role at the school and arranged to provide primary students with balls and other sports equipment from the gymnasium for use at recess," he said.
The two women noted that the community can't build a new playground because the Ministry of Education sets out strict requirements and which companies schools can use.
The cost to replace the condemned equipment is expected to be around $80,000.
"We can't come up with $80,000," Walmsley said.
She said given that the matter happened so suddenly, leaving the four youngest grades without a playground, the district and Township should help the PAC provide new playground equipment.
Hundreds of students must now share the few swings and small climb-on structure that are left. The school's other playground is sized for the older grades.
The two PAC members went to Langley Township where staff told them it was a school district matter.
Walmsley said the Township website about Alex Hope Park shows a playground but the playground is the school's. The two also did research into the Official Community Plan which shows a playground at Alex Hope Park for "recreational" and "educational" use.
Walmsley said if the Township wants to claim it has a playground for public use, it should help pay for the replacement.
The playground is on school property and one of several sites adjacent to parks where the school district has worked with the Township to share space.
The district does not receive any provincial money for school play areas.
"The school district isn't funded for nor does it budget for playgrounds within the district," Wakeling said.
The Ministry of Education did provide special funding for some school equipment at various schools around the province. Simonds Elementary was the school chosen for this district.
The Langley Meadows PAC held a celebration last school year for the opening of its $100,000 playground structure. On Sept. 20, Gordon Greenwood Elementary held a ribbon cutting for new playground equipment.
@ Copyright 2013